The International Confederation of Addiction Research Associations (ICARA) is an international, nongovernmental, multi-professional and civil society organization bringing together individuals and organizations interested in promoting addiction science through professional exchange, collaboration and action.

The purpose of ICARA is to promote in all nations the scientific understanding addiction and related problems linked psychoactive substances.  As an international confederation of research societies, the purpose of ICARA is:

a) To promote national and international research on addictive behaviour and support activities that promote scientific integrity.

b) To create avenues for collaboration between addiction research societies and serve as a forum for exchange of information related to the management of scientific organizations (e.g., fund raising, advocacy, management, training, sponsorship of scientific journals, etc.)

c) To promote the development of research organizations in low or middle income countries or countries with emerging economies where alcohol and other addiction problems are likely to expand rapidly.

d) To articulate a global vision for the role of scientific inquiry in the prevention and treatment of addiction problems.


ICARA means “friends” in Gaelic and also refers to a cushion protecting a woman’s head in one of the languages spoken in Nigeria.

Why do we need ICARA?

  • There are at least 30 national, regional and international societies, aiming to bring ATOD researchers together for exchange of knowledge and experience, to promote the interest of ATOD research and to disseminate research results, through conferences and other professional development activities.
    • An international confederation can take advantage of the knowledge and experiences that each of these individual societies brings to ATOD issues and increase the societies’ knowledge of global of relevance for addiction research activities.


  • Most professional societies provide similar services to their members (e.g., organize annual meetings, sponsor scientific journals, manage websites, disseminate information), but rarely share “best practices” with their colleagues in other disciplines or countries.
    • An international confederation can serve as a forum to share information on how to run meetings, manage finances, operate scientific journals, etc. The confederation can also explore possibilities for sharing speakers or conducting joint meetings.


  • Basic, clinical and social research has an increasingly important role to play in the shaping of health policies at the national and international levels. This is not always recognised in terms of research funding.
    • An international confederation has more weight than individual societies and could serve as an advocate for research funding.


  • Although ATOD science has become more and more international in its character, important cultural, economic and linguistic barriers to research collaboration and the dissemination of research results still exist.
    • An international confederation will provide the forum for research collaboration and dissemination across cultural groups.


  • The alcohol, gambling and tobacco industries have internationalized their marketing activities, are expanding in developing countries and emerging economies, and often oppose evidence-based policies
    • An international confederation will help ATOD societies to keep abreast of industry developments that affect the integrity of science and the translation of research into practice and policy.


  • National or regional research societies are much more prevalent in the economically advanced countries (i.e., Europe, North America, Australia), where the scientific infrastructure and the health and welfare systems are relatively well developed.
    • An international confederation can play a vital role in supporting the establishment of new research societies in developing countries, and emerging economies.

What will ICARA do?

ICARA will provide a collaborating network, support structures and learning opportunities for research societies across the globe.

ICARA will provide:

  • a forum for information exchange and mutual support, especially with regard to the very practical matters involved in running a successful research society such as conference organisation, running journals, and establishing scholarships
  • information and education opportunities for society members to learn about such things as research integrity, scientific publishing, funding mechanisms, and evidence-based policy
  • international cooperation in relation to advocacy for research funding
  • a base for inter-organizational collaboration
  • mentoring for new society leaders
  • nurturing for new societies