Description of the Project
The use of alcohol and other substances by children and adolescents is an urgent concern wide across Europe. This is not only a problem because the use of such substances is illegal for adolescents in most places but mainly because studies have shown that early initiation of alcohol and drug-use increases the likelihood of further problems in the future. Therefore, if we can prevent early initiation, we may be able to prevent future- larger scale problems otherwise resulting from early initiation of alcohol and substance use.
In the past 15 years, municipalities in Iceland have partaken in regular cross-sectional cohort surveys implemented with questionnaires filled out by all students ages 10-16 years. The surveys are known by the name Youth in Iceland and have become a vital part of the evidence-based alcohol- and substance use prevention work amongst adolescents in Iceland.
The studies serve the purpose of creating a tool for practitioners and policy makers by regularly showing the status of alcohol- and substance use amongst Icelandic children and adolescents along with establishing an understanding of their circumstances, well-being etc. Furthermore, and because implemented frequently (either annually, bi-annually or tri-annually, depending on the age group) those studies have made it possible to show the development of the use of alcohol and substances amongst different age groups in different schools, neighbourhoods, municipalities or areas around the country.
The frequent measures and the fact that the data from the questionnaires are analysed down to small areas, municipalities, neighbourhoods or even schools, have made it possible for local practitioners within schools or municipalities to use the reports as a working tool in forming prevention strategies and deciding on actions taken to react to usage related problems in Iceland. The key components of this methodology are frequent measures on the status and consistent continuous local work. This is the methodology alcohol- and substance use prevention work in Iceland has been built on and is now known by many as ,,The Icelandic Model”. This work has been ongoing in Iceland for the past 15 years, resulting in Iceland now having one of the lowest rates of adolescents’ alcohol and substance use in all of Europe.
The main aim of the current project is to transfer this evidence-based model already proven to be successful in Iceland, to other municipalities in different corners of Europe that are now facing the same problems of early initiation of alcohol-and substance use amongst adolescents, as Iceland was 15 years ago.
Since the start of this work 15 years ago we have learned a lot. We now know what works and what doesn’t in prevention work, which factors to measure and how, best practice in the implementation of surveys, whom to involve in the local work and how to react to different circumstances. The participants in the current project will benefit from the experience and knowledge that has accumulated from the work in Iceland the past 15 years. Our aim is to teach the methods proven to be successful in Iceland and to train our partners to be able to carry on this work on their own after the project finishes.
There are two main objectives of the project:
a) to reduce the initiation of alcohol and substance use amongst 15-16 year old adolescents. This will be done by working on a local level and using evidence from recent surveys to map the risk and protective factors for such use among adolescents. The local work will take aim of the risk and protective factors shown to have an impact on use in each municipality, respectively.
b) to teach and train the partaking municipal partners to apply this work in the continuation and after the project has finished.
If the project is successful, and the main objectives are achieved, the partaking municipalities will in the coming years be working systematically towards reducing the problem of adolescents’ alcohol and substance use on a local level and with evidence as a basis. They will furthermore be self-sustainable in their work, not having to rely on any other institution or organization for methodological or practical matters.
Partners in the project
RightNow ehf Iceland
Victoria Local Council Malta
Esenler Municipality Turkey
Santa Maria da Feira Municipality Portugal
Dobele Municipality Latvia
Comune di Santa Severina Italy
Ajuntament de Tarragona Spain
Exchange Association France
Youth Information Center Greece
Erasmus+ Results database
Latvia, Web page of Dobeles