What is going on Iceland? This little tiny nation that got about 348,580 living there sees a shrinking drug use. In this report, which you can read on The Independent takes note of the dramatic change in youth drug habits in Iceland over the last couple of decades. The drug usage is simply shrinking, which is fantastic for one of worlds most liberal countries in the world.
Less alcohol drinking by Young people on Iceland
In 1998, 42% of 15 and 16 year olds had drunk full during the last month. Today, the proportion is 5%.
When it comes to harder drugs like cannabis, that usage fell from 17% to 7% in usage, while cigarette smoking fell from 23% to 3%. No other country in Europe can show similar results in reducing youth drug use.
What did Icelanders do to change Young People’s Minds?
In 1992, all pupils between the ages of 14 and 16 in Iceland were asked to fill out a questionnaire. They were asked about their habits, about the relationship with their parents and about leisure activities. The survey was repeated in 1995 and 1997.
The results from the questionnaires were alarming at that time. 25% smoked cigarettes daily and over 40% had been drunk last month.
But the data could also say something about why. Those who rarely used drugs, shared certain characteristics: They drifted actively organized leisure activities, they spent more time with parents per week, they felt looked at school, and they did not spend evenings outdoors.
Based on this information, a new national plan was cut out: Youth in Iceland
The laws were changed. It was forbidden to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol below 20. Closer ties between parents and schools were strengthened through statutory parent organisations at each school. These organisations entered into educational contracts with voluntary options with the parents; like not buying alcohol for the kids or not let them have parties alone. Parents were informed of the importance of spending time – not just “quality time” – with the children, knowing their friends and talking about their lives.
And there was even a “curfew” for youth between 13 and 16 after 22:00!
In addition to this, the state increased funding for organised leisure activities, such as music, arts, dance and sports.
Young people from low-income families received special grants. Thus, one would strive for the youth to feel as part of a group – and feel well – without substance abuse.
Family times increased a lot because of the new national plan that was put into action
From 1997 to 2012, the proportion of young people who spent spending a lot of time with their parents increased from 23% to 46%. And the proportion that participated in organised sports activities increased from 24% to 42%.
And so: the proportion of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis plunged.
Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir at the University of Iceland, who has been a primus engine in this initiative, who was named the Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, sums up the experience in the article:
“We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do – and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.”
This could easily be done in other cities around the world if the politicians gave the needed fundings for it for sure. Iceland with its 348,580 people is easier to control, but most of European cities does have the same number of citizens too. 90% of Icelanders lives in Reykjavik which is the capital. So cities like Bergen, Trondheim, Malmø, Aaarhus and other cities with about that size of population shouldn’t have issues neither.
Drug usage, either its alcohol or more serious drugs usage isn’t good. So, seeing how Iceland managed to get those numbers shrinking is a good indication that this method would work in other places of the world too.
I would say! If this went into the minds of Americans, it would make America Great Again! Think of it.
Watch this Video about the whole Process that Might be handy to do in Your Country
Source: The Independent, BBC News