Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs: One Country Turned Around a Teen Drinking Crisis


Icelandic families and communities have embraced sobriety and the country became a model to Europe and the US.

Drinking used to be part of the culture in Iceland in the 1990s, the teen drinking rate in the country was around 42 percent – the highest in Europe.

The Icelandic Centre for Social Research (ICSRA) reported only five percent of teens in Iceland getting drunk in the past 30 days.

A program called Planet Youth was started in 1999 to address an evident crisis of heavy intoxication among Icelanders. The key focus of the program was to encourage a parent to spend more quality time with their kids.

The evidence of the situation and its progression was gathered and published to insure parents, academia, police and other stakeholders of the program had all the relevant information.

Such problems as teen drinking, smoking, marijuana use, and abuse of other drugs have decreased significantly across the country. Iceland changed its view on youth culture, expanding family importance.

The local government provided about $650 Canadian per child, per year, to ensure children have better options in after-school hours, such as music or sports, than to use alcohol and tobacco.

Some prevention projects were established, such as to keep teens between 13 and 16 inside by 10 p.m., and those under 12 by 8 p.m. Parents became more conscious of who their kids’ friends are. They organized “parental patrols” to make sure kids were safely at home at the appropriate time.

Understanding of parenting has been transformed in Iceland. Ultimately everyone agrees now that a family is a closer unit today with fewer battles with kids and more love and understanding between the generations.

Ireland, Chile, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Latvia are looking to Planet Youth as an example of a successful move towards a healthier and happier generation.


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