The Minister of Health has approved a policy until 2020 on alcohol and drug prevention. Quantifiable targets will be defined on the basis of this policy and a plan of action will be drawn up to work towards achieving them. The policy covers consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs as well as abuse of prescription drugs which can lead to addiction and dependency.
Abuse of alcohol and other drugs has serious consequences for public health and is one of the main risk factors for poor health, premature death and the contraction of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardio-vascular disorders, according to a report accompanying the new policy. The report refers to studies demonstrating that Iceland has been successful in substantially reducing consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs and tobacco among children under the age of 16 in recent years. In fact the situation in the country in this regard is one of the best in Europe. Furthermore, overall alcohol consumption in Iceland is below the European average, and it seems reasonable to attribute this in part to the country's conservative alcohol policy.
The Ministry of Welfare led the work on the policy, together with the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Directorate of Health. The policy identifies the main goals to be aimed at; work towards these will be described in detail in a formal action plan covering two years at a time. Measures to be taken will address prevention, treatment, post-treatment monitoring and rehabilitation and also the legal framework covering these issues, and they will involve central and local government, the health services, the social services, the educational system, NGOs, law-enforcement agencies and the customs authorities.
Main goals in the alcohol and drug prevention policy until 2020:
- To restrict access to alcohol and other drugs.
- To protect groups at risk from the damaging effects of alcohol and other drugs.
- To prevent young people from starting to consume alcohol or other drugs.
- To reduce the numbers of people who develop dangerous habits regarding the consumption of alcohol or other drugs.
- To ensure that those who have abuse or addiction problems have access to continuous and coordinated services based on the best available knowledge and quality standards.
- To reduce health damage and the number of deaths related to consumption of alcohol, or other drugs, consumed by the individuals involved, or by others.
A plan of action will be drawn up to work towards the goals set under the new policy on measures to combat alcohol and drug abuse. Design of the plan will be the responsibility of a task force consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Directorate of Health.