Significant reductions in drug consumption levels are possible through concerted action. That is the message given by the Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur B Eggertsson, the director of Icelandic Centre for Social Research, Jon Sigfusson and the secretary general of ECAD, Erik Leijonmarck who met in ECAD city of Bucharest last week to celebrate 10 years anniversary of the prevention program Youth in Europe.

Jon Sigfusson director YiE, Dagur B Eggertsson Mayor of Reykjavik, Georgiana Pogonaru Honorary Counsul, Ben Oni Ardelan Senator, Cosmina Simiean Nicolescu, Bucharest Municipality

"Back in 1998 the situation of adolescent substance use on Iceland was terrible. Substance use among adolescent was the highest in Europe based on ESPAD data. We were losing the kids and their families. The city of Reykjavik and the Icelandic government felt they needed to do something. Now substance use is the lowest in Europe” says the director of Icelandic Center for Research and Analysis and Youth in Europe, Jon Sigfusson


How has that come about?

It has been a systematic approach and commitment to prevention by the whole society. But it’s not just about the drugs it is about healing the society. Change the society and the behavior of children will follow. We needed to strengthen the preventive factors for children and eliminate the risk factors. It is as hard, yet simple as that.

What did you do?

Dagur B Eggertsson, mayor of Reykjavik explains that in 1994 the city entered into ECAD and Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir entered as the first woman-mayor of Reyjavik. Reykjavik launched a five year drug prevention programme Drug free Iceland 1997-2002 in cooperation with the Icelandic Government and ECAD. Up till that point nothing they did in prevention was really working. In 2003 the positive changes were already evident and we decided to keep on. Since then, the numbers just keep on dropping.

The methodology expands to European Countries

In 2005 the work on Iceland was decided to be expanded to other European countries. The methodology is now being transferred to other cities in Europe and is reducing levels of substance use across the European continent. We are already seeing changes in European cities which have adopted the methodology, Jon Sigfusson says. Jon emphasizes that he wants others to steal his work and continue to work systematically to reduce levels of substance use and improve overall health of youngsters in Europe.

Dr Adrian Sarbu from the city of Bucharest explains that Bucharest is utilizing the data from Youth in Europe not only to reduce substance use levels but also to bring down levels of suicides in the city.

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Presentation by Dagur Eggertsson