ABSTRACT The Department of Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction started operations on 1 January 2009, when the National Institute of Public Health (KTL) and the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES) were merged. The
newly formed institute, called the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), operates under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The scope of the research and preventive work conducted in the Department covers alcohol, drugs, tobacco and gambling issues. The two main tasks
of the Department are (i) to research, produce and disseminate information on alcohol and drugs, substance use, addictions and their social and health‐related effects and (ii) to develop prevention and good practices with a view to counteracting the onset and development of alcohol
and drug problems and the damaging effects of smoking and other addictions. The number of staff hovers at approximately 60 people. The Department is organized into three units, one specialized in social sciences (the Alcohol and Drug Research Unit), another in laboratory analytics (the Alcohol
and Drug Analytics Unit) and the third primarily in preventive work (the Addiction Prevention Unit). These units incorporate a rich variety and long traditions of both research and preventive work. The mixture of different disciplines creates good opportunities for interdisciplinary research
projects and collaboration within the Department. Also, the fact that in the same administrative context there are both researchers and people specialized in preventive work opens up interesting possibilities for combining efforts from these two branches. Nationally, the Department is a key
player in all its fields of interest. It engages in a great deal of cooperation both nationally and internationally, and among its strengths are the high‐quality, regularly collected long‐term data sets.