Follow ‘Icelandic Model’ to tackle drug abuse, says expert


·         Consistent, comprehensive prevention activities vital

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 18: Holding that there is no ‘magic’ in the huge success of the globally-acclaimed ‘Icelandic Model’ in addressing drug abuse, a lead campaigner from the European country said what is vital is to take up activities in a comprehensive and sustained mode.

“It is important for nations is to take up intense long-term, consistent and comprehensive prevention activities to snuff out the drug menace”, said Ms. Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir, Chief Knowledge Officer, Planet Youth-Iceland, in her presentation at the International Forum on ‘Children Matter-Right to a Drug-Free Childhood’ here.

 Ms. Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir, Chief Knowledge Officer, Planet Youth-Iceland, speaking at the International Forum on ‘Children Matter-Right to a Drug-Free Childhood, organised by Fourth Wave Foundation, in Thiruvananthapuram

The ‘Icelandic Model’ is not just a model but a methodology and a way of communication. It shows that prevention should not end with one campaign but it should be more like a quiet revolution, she said.   

The three-day meet, which saw convergence of top voices of anti-drug campaign from across the world to share their insights and perspectives, was organised by Fourth Wave Foundation in partnership with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD).

Apart from evidence-based and community-based programmes, the most beautiful thing about the ‘Icelandic Model’ is creating and maintaining a dialogue between research, policy and practice, Ms Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir said.

The actions included activities related to parental watch, at community level and national level, she said.

“At community level, formal and structured leisure time activities were designed for youth. Intense media campaigns aimed at discouraging adolescent alcohol use and smoking were also conducted,” she added.

Ms. Monica Barzanti, Head of International Relations, Community San Patrignano-Italy, speaking on ‘Understanding the needs of children whose primary caregivers use drugs,’ said according to WHO data released in September 2022, around 300 million children aged between 2 and 4 suffer some sort of abuse at the hands of parents and caregivers.

Noting that children’s drug abuse-related issues have to be addressed in a holistic way, she said child protection services are yet to be fully equipped across the world and we have to break the cycle of poverty and social exclusion across generations.

Mr Carlton Hall, President and CEO, Carlton Hall Consultancy-US, said substance use prevention is about identifying the most vulnerable in the population and the environment that makes them vulnerable across the lifespan.

In a panel session on ‘Need for prevention protocol for drug supply and demand reduction,’Ms Priyanka G, IAS, Director, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Kerala, said besides addressing the root cause of drug addiction, a proper protocol needs to be established to identify the origin of supply of drugs.

Lauding the ‘Project VENDA’ initiative, Mr Richard Antony, India Location Leader, EYGDS-India, said preventive education is the right step in the efforts of reducing substance abuse.

Calling for making school curriculum more robust, Dr Dharav Shah, Director, Ugravedan Foundation-India, said strategies for reducing demand of drugs include empowerment of students and youth with knowledge and life skills and use of power of social media for effective counter marketing.

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