The Foundation and the Research Institute for Addiction were established in 1993 in view of the urgent drug problems and the political will to tackle these problems on the basis of the four-pillar drug policy formulated by the Federal Council in 1991 and to monitor and evaluate its implementation. It was founded by a small circle of committed experts. The Institute offered itself as a non-profit, multidisciplinary, experienced and independent instrument for evaluation research. In the first years, the team consisted of former employees of the Addiction Research Center of the City of Zurich and the Research Department of the Social Psychiatric Service of the Psychiatric University Hospital.
The initial focus on the evaluation of interventions in the field of illegal drugs was supplemented, in line with the changes in the addiction and addictive substance problem, by a broad spectrum of research and service areas, including legal addictive substances, non-substance-related addictive behaviour, health planning and economics, counselling and assessments, and knowledge transfer through continuing education. In the course of this development, the purpose of the foundation was expanded and the current name Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction was introduced. At the same time, the scientific and health policy networking of the Institute was expanded from the national to an international level.