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“Enforced Common Sense:” How It’s Preventing Teen Drug Abuse

How about some good news for a change?  All too often on the subject of drug and alcohol we hear stories and thoughts of different people who have suffered greatly from drug and alcohol addiction.  Or we go online to try to find more information about the subject, and we get hit with a veritable landslide of negative data and information on the subject.  Or we try to find help for a loved one, and all we see is negativity and hardship and incessant cruelty on our streets and in our homes thanks to drug and alcohol addiction.

So how about some good news for a change?  It took a while for it to get here, and it took even longer for the good news to filter through the American media, but we finally got some news in that shows that change can occur and that positivity is reachable.  What we found out was that Iceland, Iceland of all places, now has the lowest teen drug and alcohol abuse statistics in the entire European continent.  And are they ever low!  We are talking rates of drug and alcohol abuse amongst teens that, if those numbers were also true in the United States, our problem would be cut down by about ninety percent.

Here is some of the exact data taken from the study done on how Iceland addressed their drug problem:

  • “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% in 1998 to 5% in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17% to 7%. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23% to just 3%.”
  • “The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. ‘This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,’ says Milkman, an American psychologist who worked part time in Iceland and observed the changes occur. ‘I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.’”

How Did Iceland Do It?

These numbers are truly incredible.  Basically, what Iceland did was they enforced common sense, and they put in a degree of good control on their teens.  The highlight and the keynote there is that it was good control.  There is a difference between good control and bad control.  You can control someone in a bad way, or you can control them in a good way.  Sending your kids to a school in a good neighborhood is good control.  Sending them to a school in a bad neighborhood would be bad control.

So, Iceland stood up and finally put their collective feet down as a country and said, “Enough!”  Parents worked together with governing bodies, and better control started getting put in on teens.  Schools, parents, even companies started involving teens more in extracurricular activities that were chaperoned.  Parents started spending their evenings with their kids, as opposed to letting their kids go run about with their friends unsupervised.  Even older teens were brought into youth programs and given constructive and creative things to do.

On the flip side, the prevention and crack down that was experienced in Iceland by local authorities was incredible.  The drug presence here was absolutely crushed.  Iceland really figured out a great way to address substance abuse amongst their children, and if we can do the same here in the States, we will be better off for it.

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