Iceland president: beating drugs is simple

Iceland’s president has told a conference in Ireland that drug abuse can be avoided by ensuring youngsters follow a certain model of behaviour. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson explained his “very simple method” at the 19th European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD) conference this week.

“The only way is to create a defence mechanism among the young people themselves, to build up their confidence so that they refuse to be victims,” said Grimsson, who carried out research into the subject 20 years ago in his role as a professor at the University of Reykjavik. The model requires teenagers to not drink alcohol until they are 18, to commit to an hour of family time each day, and to take part in regular sports activities.

“Doing all three factors meant there was less than a one per cent chance of becoming a drug addict,” Grimsson told the audience of 150 people, mainly from Baltic and Scandinavian countries. Other European cities have already started using the model, and it is currently being trialled in South America.

Mr Grmisson, who was presented with an award at the conference for youth work, also said that although the abolition of borders in Europe has in many ways been positive, he feels it has allowed the drug trade to become “pan European. He added, however, that drugs must be beaten on a local rather than a national level.

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