Mr. Ţórólfur Ţórlindsson
Mr. Ţórlindsson is a professor at the University of Iceland. He has more than two decades of experience in administrative and university services, including being Chairman of the Social Science Faculty for eight years, Chairman of the Department of Nursing, President of the Association for Icelandic Social Scientists, President of the Fullbright Commission in Iceland, Member of the University Council for more than eight years, Vice President of the National Science Council, Co-President of the Advisory Committee on Science Policy for the Icelandic Government, President of the National Committee of Basic and Applied Science, Member of the Joint Committee of the Nordic Social Science Research Councils, Member of the Committee of Targeted Socio-Economic Research: The European Union Fourth Framework Programme on Social Science, Member of the Icelandic Academy of Science, Member of the European Science Foundation: Committee on Social Science.
Youth and Drugs in Europe:
The Interplay of Local and Global Factors
An Address by Ţórólfur Ţórlindsson
to the Conference of the European Cities Against Drugs
April 26, 2002
This presentation attempts to cast light on drug abuse among European youth. The presentation emphasizes the importance of understanding the interplay of global and local factors. Five aspects of the international context are briefly discussed. First, the process of globalization and the recent changes in Europe are analyzed in relation to drug use among youth and prevention policy. Second, the role of internationally created and commercially driven youth cultures are examined in with reference to drug use, risk and prevention. Third, the role of "the ideological mood" is analyzed, focusing on the two examples, the medicalization of society and social problems and the role of fashion. Fourth, the organization and the power of the drug syndicates is examined emphasizing how they can influence the lifestyles and the culture of young people. Fifth the ideologies and the connection between drug supply and drug demand is discussed with reference to formal international organizations.
Three major aspects of the local context are analyzed. First, the institutional context of youth is discussed in terms of the family, the school and organized leisure. Some illustrative examples from recent research are presented. Second, the importance of community is discussed in terms of recent research on the role of social networks of parents, local politicians, educators and youth oriented voluntary associations.
Finally, an attempt is made to analyze the interplay of the local and the global factors that influence drug use. It is argued that 1) youth culture and lifestyles 2) the role of institutional and community control 3) the relationship between supply and demand, provided three fruitful ways to bridge the gap between the local and the international levels. The paper concludes with brief comments on the importance of international cooperation, coordination and collaboration for building an evidence based European drug prevention policy.