Iceland Offers The Best Idea To Stop Teens From Using Drugs, Should Rest Of The World Do The Same?

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald January 23, 08:59 am
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A photo showing a teenager playing soccer. In Iceland, the number of teens smoking, drinking, or using drugs declined because of state-funded sports and arts facilities.
(Photo : Guang Niu/Getty Images)

Drugs, alcohol and smoking are popular to teenagers nowadays but Iceland was able to come up with a solution in order to drastically decrease the number of teens involved in such vices and addiction. This solution involves state funding for organized sports and other clubs in order to divert the attention of kids in the country in an attempt to totally curb the use of alcohol and drugs, as well as smoking.

The Atlantic reported the government of Iceland believes the state funding will let kids feel like they are part of a group since the feeling of belongingness is one of the major factors as to why teens sometimes resort to drinking, smoking and taking drugs. Two decades ago, the teens in Iceland were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe but local psychologist Gudberg Jonsson and American psychology professor Harvey Milkman said that it is much different now.

In the past, people could not walk the streets on a Friday night because drunken teens made it unsafe. Fortunately, the circumstances have changed now because teens are mostly indoors even if the school is out.

Gudberg said there are areas dedicated to sports such as badminton, ping pong, swimming, indoor skating, football, and others. There are also clubs provided for music, dance and art. As compared to 20 years ago, Icelandic teens are among the cleanest living teenagers in Europe.

In 1998, drunk teenagers, mainly 15- and 16-year-olds, was at 42 percent and in 2016, it decreased to five percent. The marijuana usage plummeted to seven percent from 17 during the same periods while smoking decreased from 23 percent to only three percent.

Independent reported Milkman argued if other countries would offer the same to the teenagers, the general psychological and physical well-being of these kids will be greatly benefited. In a study that Milkman was part of, they were able to find teens start using drugs because it is available, teens are risk-takers, they feel alienated or are depressed. The study also found out teens continue to use drugs because it was their way of coping.

Milkman started to become involved in Iceland in 1992 and after he and his team conducted a research regarding the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, laws were changed in the area called Youth in Iceland. Aside from the sports facilities and programs funded by the state, Iceland also worked to change the age that one could purchase alcohol and tobacco, the advertisements of such products were banned, and schools and parents worked together to change the growing trend.

No other country has made the same efforts as Iceland has done. Do you think the changes in Iceland would also help other countries? Let us know in the comments below!

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