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Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

Photo: Stefan Jonasson

Author: Emma Young, Mosaic Science

 

Young people on a school outing in ReykjavíkIn Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it,  and why other countries won’t follow suit.
(Reprinted with permission from Mosaic Science (https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse) through Creative Commons (CC-BY 4.0) licence.)
 
It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavík, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?
Walking with me are Guðberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavík University. Twenty years ago, says Guðberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavík on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”  . . .

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