What Works: Learning from Iceland

Our interest in Youth in Iceland stems not only from its dramatic success in reducing Iceland’s teen substance abuse problem, but also from the central role that investment in high-quality after-school programming – with sports and arts as the focus – played in the country’s success. 

In substance abuse prevention terms, after-school sports and arts programs favorably shift the balance of risk and protective factors; in physiological terms, they can induce brain activities that mimic the neurological “high” that can come from drug use; in common sense terms, they provide fun, healthy activities for kids to do instead of engaging in drug/alcohol use and associated risky behaviors. The success of such programs as implemented is Iceland is based on a very simple yet powerful premise: rather than telling young people to “just say no” to drugs, we must give them things to say “yes” to. 

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Learn more…

This is How Iceland Turned its Teenagers From Heavy Drinkers to Model Citizens

World Economic Forum/Watch video

How Iceland Got Teens to Say No to Drugs

The Atlantic/Read full article

How An American Helped Iceland Fix Its Teen Substance Abuse Problem

WBUR: Here & Now/Listen or Read

Iceland Succeeds at Reversing Teenage Substance Abuse The U.S. Should Follow Suit

HuffPost/Read full article

How an American helped Iceland turn its youth crisis around

Mother Nature Network/Read full article

Substance use prevention for adolescents: the Icelandic Model

Health Promotion International/Read full article