There is no ‘magic’ in the success of the ‘Icelandic Model’ in addressing drug abuse. It is important for nations to take up intense, long term, consistent, and comprehensive prevention activities to snuff out the drug menace, Margret Lilja Gudmundsdottir, chief knowledge officer, Planet Youth-Iceland, has said.
In her presentation at the ‘Children Matter-Right to a Drug-Free Childhood’ forum that concluded here on Friday, Ms. Gudmundsdottir said the ‘Icelandic Model’ was not just a model but a methodology and a way of communication. It showed that prevention should not end with one campaign, but be more like a quiet revolution.
Apart from evidence-based and community-based programmes, it created and maintained a dialogue between research, policy, and practice, she said.
Parents had a central role in safeguarding children from drug abuse as even minor deviations on the part of children that they tend to ignore could lead to serious consequences, experts at the forum said.
The physical and mental personality of a child developed in the period from 4 to 10 years. Use of alcoholic drinks and smoking by parents at home, which had become a new normal, would seriously affect the character formation of children, Edit Schlaffer, anti-drug campaigner and founder of Women Without Borders, said.
The role of parents in ensuring a drug-free childhood was especially crucial at a time when the pace of transition to nuclear families had accelerated, she said.
Drug abuse in the 18-25 age group was perhaps the single major global challenge today that called for effective interventions by governments and society to wean them away, the experts said.
“Attainment of maturity is a turning point in so far as drug abuse is concerned, as the young break free from parental controls and, often, move into drug-related trading for the easy money it offers. Many discontinue their studies. It would then be only a matter of time before they move to trading in drugs to drug use,” Dr. Schlaffer said.
The challenge would be particularly daunting for India where half the population would comprise young people in another 10 years. While the nation stood to gain from the demographic dividend, it should also remain vigilant against the younger generation falling prey to drug abuse, she said.