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Thread: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

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    Canada Avalon Member Justplain's Avatar
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    Default Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    The theory for this youth program was originally developed in the USA. Fortunately it caught on in Iceland where it has had a dramatic impact causing declining substance abuse in youth. Here are some excerpts from the article:

    "Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”"

    "Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

    "Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent."

    "By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

    “We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

    "At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.

    "In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since."

    "Using the survey data and insights from research including Milkman’s, a new national plan was gradually introduced. It was called Youth in Iceland.

    "Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

    "A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today."

    "State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

    "Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

    "Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted."

    https://mosaicscience.com/story/icel...ubstance-abuse

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    Default Re: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    Thanks for thread, had a quick look at the link, sounds really beneficial.

    Have you studied about the project's results in anywhere else? (Hopefully wanting to hear more good news).
    Emotions are transient, compassion is eternal.

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    Justplain (1st March 2017)

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    Default Re: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    Quote Posted by looking-glass (here)
    Thanks for thread, had a quick look at the link, sounds really beneficial.

    Have you studied about the project's results in anywhere else? (Hopefully wanting to hear more good news).
    Hi Looking Glass, the article itself cites the use of this program in Europe, under the banner of 'Youth in Europe'. It is rolled out at the community level in Europe, with success. It needs to be tailored to the locality. The program is co-ordinated out of Iceland by what sounds like volunteers. It needs more serious long term funding from the communities involved but it sounds like it is succeeding. Here is their website:

    www.youthineurope.org

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    Default Re: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    Quote Posted by Justplain (here)
    Quote Posted by looking-glass (here)
    Thanks for thread, had a quick look at the link, sounds really beneficial.

    Have you studied about the project's results in anywhere else? (Hopefully wanting to hear more good news).
    Hi Looking Glass, the article itself cites the use of this program in Europe, under the banner of 'Youth in Europe'. It is rolled out at the community level in Europe, with success. It needs to be tailored to the locality. The program is co-ordinated out of Iceland by what sounds like volunteers. It needs more serious long term funding from the communities involved but it sounds like it is succeeding. Here is their website:

    www.youthineurope.org
    sorry, must have got distracted by the "originally developed in the USA" and was wanting to hear about its orignal successes and evolution
    Emotions are transient, compassion is eternal.

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    Default Re: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    Quote Posted by Justplain (here)
    The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

    “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,”
    https://mosaicscience.com/story/icel...ubstance-abuse
    good to hear that people are doing something for the youth. it would have been better if they mentioned the cause of the problem so others can implement appropriate solutions. as a veteran father 8 let me share my observation. the problem is ;boredom. children are bored particularly in schools and especially boys. they have a lot of testosterone to make them sit all day thus after school they have to spend those energy on hangouts having nowhere to go. I dont know about "brain chemistry" but giving them activities they enjoy certainly works.

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    Justplain (1st March 2017)

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    Canada Avalon Member Justplain's Avatar
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    Default Re: Youth of Iceland program greatly reduces youth substance abuse

    Quote Posted by Bubu (here)
    Quote Posted by Justplain (here)
    The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

    “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,”
    https://mosaicscience.com/story/icel...ubstance-abuse
    good to hear that people are doing something for the youth. it would have been better if they mentioned the cause of the problem so others can implement appropriate solutions. as a veteran father 8 let me share my observation. the problem is ;boredom. children are bored particularly in schools and especially boys. they have a lot of testosterone to make them sit all day thus after school they have to spend those energy on hangouts having nowhere to go. I dont know about "brain chemistry" but giving them activities they enjoy certainly works.
    Hi Bubu, in the article it describes that the main solution for treating this substance abuse in youth is to give them something better to do, such as sports and music. This confirms your observations from your own family. The talk about brain chemistry is to describe in physiological terms what is happening. They are postulatiing that children have various aptitudes, like some are thrill seekers, etc. The article link in the OP will give more details and pics.

    Eight kids, you must have (had) your hands full! :-)

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