Sunday, August 6, 2017

How to stop the deadliest drug overdose crisis in American history - Vox

"We have a lot of complex problems in this country," Beletsky said. "Without really addressing all of those physical, emotional, and mental health problems, just focusing on the opioid supply makes no sense — because people still have those problems."

Some places have put such ideas into policy. Iceland built an anti-drug plan that focuses largely on providing kids and adolescents with after-school activities, from music and the arts to sports like soccer and indoor skating to many other clubs and activities. Iceland coupled this approach with other policies — setting drinking and smoking ages, banning alcohol and tobacco advertising, enforcing curfews for teenagers, and getting parents more involved in their kids' schools — to further discourage and fight drug use.

Researcher Harvey Milkman told journalist Emma Young, who profiled Iceland's experiment, that it's "a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry … without the deleterious effects of drugs."

As a result, Iceland, which had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, has seen adolescent consumption fall. The number of 15- and 16-year-olds who got drunk in the previous month fell from 42 percent in 1998 to just 5 percent in 2016, and the number who ever smoked marijuana dropped from 17 percent to 7 percent in the same time frame. In a similar time period, from 1997 to 2012, the percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who participated in sports at least four times a week almost doubled — from 24 to 42 percent — and the number of kids who said they often or almost always spent time with their parents on weekdays doubled, from 23 to 46 percent.

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