World Health Organization statistics say that an average adult drinks about 6.2 liters of pure alcohol each year. We all are well aware of the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. However, generally, we undermine and underestimate the control that these things can have on us. It is, perhaps, this attitude that is the beginning of a problem.
Adolescence can be a tricky age. With all the hormonal imbalances and peer pressure building up, teenagers can be in a vulnerable state and turn to alcohol and drugs easily. However, they are the flag-bearers of a country’s future and such instances can, indirectly, have a deep impact on the nation itself.
In this article, we shed light on a nation that tackled this menacing problem that its teenage population found itself trapped in. Iceland had one of the highest rates of drinking in the entire Europe and the situation was critical twenty years back. So, the government decided to take adequate measures to curb incessant drinking among its teenagers. Unfortunately, educating teenagers about the ill-effects of drinking wasn’t fetching results.
It was time to look closely and deeply into the root causes of this problem.
How did they Do It?
To find out ways to help drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption, psychologists tried to analyze the factors that helped non-drinkers steer clear of alcohol. Some of the observations that they made were:
- Teenagers who spent more time with their parents were more likely to not take to drinking.
- Teenagers who didn’t go out late at night were the ones who kept away from alcohol.
- Most teenagers who took to drinking did it out of boredom and stress.
These observations encouraged the government to come up with the following measures:
- Any social problem is an opportunity for the government. Icelandic government levies heavy taxes on alcohol and beer, raising the prices of these commodities very-very high. This deters teenagers from taking this up as a habit.
- Having found stress and boredom as major causes of alcohol addiction, the government encouraged teenagers to take up hobbies such as sports, music, dance, and art. It ensured this by providing adequate infrastructure. Additionally, families in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik are paid an annual sum of £ 250 per child to spend on such activities.
- Schools counselled parents to spend more quality time with their teenage children.
- The government made it illegal to sell alcohol to teenagers below 20 years of age and tobacco to teenagers below 18 years.
- The government also took the harsh step of banning children below 16 from stepping out of their houses late at night.
2012 figures revealed that 42% of teenagers in the age bracket of 15-16 years took to sports at least four days a week. The time spent by parents with their children doubled in a matter of a few years.
20 years back, a whopping 42% of the teen population admitted to having been drunk in the past month. After the “cleansing drive” of the government, 90% of the teens confessed to not having touched alcohol in the past month. Now, only 3% of teenagers smoke in the country.
The country has made an amazing transformation in its quest to have a healthy and happy present and future.
Isn’t this a model for other nations to follow?