Conference programm is focusing almost entirely on one topic - youth drinking. We try to cover the subject as well as possible to really give an overview of different studies and drivers in youth drinking trends.
We will hear from the main studies - ESPAD and HBCS. We will listen different experts explaining why and how different infuences have brought the changes about. And we will explore what are the challenges that this field is experiencing.
NORWAY: Leading the way
Young Norwegians of school age now drink less alcohol and smoke less than ever, according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Bergen.
The University of Bergen survey assessed the health, wellbeing, social environment, and health behavior of children ages 11, 13, 15, and 16. Though drinking alcoholic beverages remains a mark of the transition between childhood and adulthood, it significantly has declined by 30% since the previous survey four years ago.
Youth drinking is going down. That promising and somewhat surprising development in Nordic countries, which has traditionally a strong alcohol policy but also in Baltic countries with much weaker regulation. The same is reported in UK; Australia, Japan. To mention few.
We must have done something right. But what exactly? What is behind these positive changes? What are the main drivers and factors why the group of abstaining teenagers is growing?
One of the most interesting developments in the alcohol and drugs field in recent years is the decline in substance use among young people.
This decline is found in a number of European countries with very different use rates and policy frameworks. In some countries this decline comes despite an increase in adult use.
Several Norwegian studies have confirmed the impression of a “clean living” young generation. This tendency also includes a reduction in tobacco use, a stronger focus on a healthy diet and exercise and lower levels of delinquency.
So we must be doing something right, right?
Somewhat paradoxically, there have not been any major shifts in alcohol and drug policy in Norway in recent years, and the changes that we have seen are mostly minor steps in a more liberal direction.
On the other hand, there seems to be greater awareness among parents about alcohol norms and parent involvement. Several prevention programmes have focused on child-parent relationships. The Örebro Prevention Programme in Sweden and the Icelandic Cities for Youth model are evidence based examples of this approach.
There may also be cultural and technological explanations for these developments. Some have suggested that the clean living young generation is a reflection of a “performance culture” among today’s youth, some have pointed to technological changes such as the internet and social media that have created new ways of socializing and others have argued that the health trends are mirrored by increased mental healh problems among young people, greater insecurity and distorted body ideals.
The goal of the NordAN conference in Oslo in 2016 is to start a discussion about the trends and mechanisms that are emerging. We have asked researchers about the data and their perspectives on these trends. And we have asked young people themselves to describe what they see and reflect on their own situation.
Actis – Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs has worked with NordAN to make this conference an interesting arena for discussion and networking. Actis is an umbrella organization for Norwegian NGOs in the alcohol and drugs field. We represent 27 organisations in the field of alcohol and drug policy, prevention, treatment, self-help and social re-integration, as well as ethnic and sexual minorities.
WELCOME to NordAN CONFERENCE!
WELCOME to Oslo!
Some people dream of success. We make it happen.
Stig Erik Sørheim, NordAN board member from Norway
Welcome to another gathering of Nordic and Baltic organizations in the field of alcohol and drug policy. We are glad that Stig Erik Sörheim and his team at our very active partner ACTIS is willing to host our annual meeting in Oslo this autumn.
As usual, we will have a nice mix of scientific background information, examples from intervention and policy work, and updates on policy and practice from different countries and regions among our members.
Youth drinking is a leading topic this year. We need to understand drivers of the overall positive development in some countries, that might help us go further to reduce underage drinking, and especially binge drinking in youth. We need to find examples on how to improve the situation in communities with high problem levels.
We look forward to seeing you in Oslo for an exciting exchange of knowledge and experiences on these topics.
Peter Allebeck, NordAN president