Summary of Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse but the Rest of the World Isn’t Listening

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Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse but the Rest of the World Isn’t Listening summary
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How did Icelandic teens switch from being one of the most substance-abusing populations in Europe to being one of the “cleanest living”? Journalist Emma Young examines how a government-sponsored program called Youth in Iceland evolved, and, ultimately, brought an about-face to Icelandic teen substance abuse. Young offers specific examples of the program’s universal applicability even as she explains why places like the United States probably won’t copy Iceland’s strategies. getAbstract recommends this article to policy makers, parents, teachers and everyone interested finding ways to stop adolescent substance abuse.

About the Author

Emma Young is an award-winning freelance science and health journalist. She is the author of the book Sane: How I Shaped Up My Mind, Improved My Mental Strength, and Found Calm.



Between 2007 and 2012, the number of Icelandic teens engaged in substance abuse fell by half. This about-face occurred thanks to a program dubbed “Youth in Iceland” – the brainchild of American psychology professor Harvey Milkman, Icelandic psychologist Gudberg Jónsson and University of Iceland researcher Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir.

Milkman began developing the theories behind Youth in Iceland at Metropolitan State College of Denver. He believed adolescent substance abuse stemmed from addiction to “changes in brain chemistry.” So Milkman...

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    M. W. 3 years ago
    This makes so much sense and is so obvious, it's a shame that so many kids grow up in circumstances other than the outlined ones.