Last week ECAD was working in Vienna, participating at the 60th Session of the Commission on Narcotic drugs at the UN.
Among the side events we co-organized, some special attention was devoted to the successfull work in the cities that take part in the Youth in Europe Project.

Cities - panelen i Wien 2017

In cooperation with the Government of Iceland, Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, and IOGT Internationaltwo ECAD cities, Riga and Kaunas, highlighted their experience in working with drug use among adolescents.

Cities are the key in implementing the obligations of preventing drug use set up in the UN General Assembly outcome document and the UN drug conventions. A comprehensive use of data on youth life styles and behaviour helps city practitioners to identify local and specific risk and protective factors to guide the cities` interventions on youth. Cities that take actions based on sound data can substantially decrease the levels of adolescent substance use and other unwanted social behaviour.

Background

The presentations of Riga and Kaunas in Vienna were set against the background of the Icelandic research that dates back to 1998.
In 1998, substance use amongst adolescents in Iceland measured the highest in comparison with all the European countries. In 2015 substance use amongst Icelandic adolescents plummeted to the lowest in Europe. The improvement in substance use is the result of a concerted and in science well-grounded action that can be replicated elsewhere.


General discussion and points raised

·         Cities use data differently, some cities work actively with suicide prevention;

·         Some cites see reduction in tobacco and alcohol use but not in cannabis use. Why this was the case, turned into a vivid discussion in Vienna;

·         It is important to have a comprehensive strategy to address both licit and illicit drug use;

·         Difficulties in importing the model from Iceland.


Recommendations

·         Cities should adopt evidence based primary prevention as a basis for their actions on drugs.

·         National legislation should be grounded in evidence and experience gained from evidence based primary prevention.

·         Member states and civil society need to hear that prevention does work when conducted properly.



Further reading on the Icelandic research