Prevention is Possible: A Brief History of the Origin and Dissemination of the Icelandic Prevention Model

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In two decades, the Icelandic prevention model (IPM) has been employed to dramatically reduce rates of adolescent substance use in Iceland. Briefly, the IPM is a multisectoral, community-based, collaborative system where researchers, policy makers, administrative leaders, and practitioners join forces to reduce the odds of adolescent substance use over time. Comparatively, Iceland now ranks among the lowest in adolescent substance use in all of Europe. Since 2005, the IPM has garnered considerable international attention, and several countries or municipalities within them have adapted, or are presently adapting, the model to their needs. In this commentary, we first briefly review the history and formation of the IPM in Iceland from a school-based survey to a fully integrated prevention system. In the second part, we present a short overview of the national consensus building and institutional collaboration that led to the implementation of the model in Chile in Latin America, as a demonstrative example. In this volume of Health Promotion Practice, we also present a series of two practice-based articles that introduce the IPM. The first article, titled “Development and Guiding Principles of the Icelandic Model for Preventing Adolescent Substance Use,” introduces the theoretical origins of the model, five guiding principles, and evidence of effectiveness to date. In the second article, titled “Implementing the Icelandic Model for Preventing Adolescent Substance Use,” we outline 10 practice-based steps to guide model implementation in other countries. Both articles are available via open access, and both are also available online in Spanish.