for healthy, active and social youth!
What is Planet Youth?

Planet Youth is an international research-based primary prevention model developed by the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA) at Reykjavik University.

The aim of the model is to reduce the use of psychoactive substances by young people and improve their health and quality of life.

Primary prevention refers to problem solving before problems occur. In other words, it places emphasis on guiding young people away from psychoactive substance use and towards other activities by improving their relationships, modifying their lifestyles and providing a safe environment.

Why Planet Youth?

Planet Youth is an Icelandic prevention framework that has been in place for more than 20 years and is currently replicated in 32 countries and 5 continents. The model was developed in 1998, when Icelandic youth ranked among the highest in terms of psychoactive substance abuse in the European teenage population (European School Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), 1998). Long-term, sustained prevention practices have helped Iceland achieve excellent results – Iceland is now listed as a country with one of the lowest rates of psychoactive substance use in Europe (ESPAD, 2015).

The Planet Youth model employs a population-wide approach and focuses on all young people, not just specific or vulnerable groups.

Planet Youth success principles

Engaging and empowering communities to make practical decisions through high-quality, locally available data and evaluation


Highlighting community action and engaging public schools as a natural centre of the neighbourhood/locality, with the core goal of improving the health, education and success of children and teenagers


Engaging researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and community members specialising in different fields and addressing complex, real-life problems

The Planet Youth model is uniquely placed to deliver activities based on real-world data:
The current situation regarding psychoactive substances and other aspects is researched to gather relevant data (more on this in Data Matters)
The data is used to identify and implement prevention measures.
Science-based Prevention Planet Youth aims to change young people’s behaviour in relation to psychoactive substance use. Understanding and focusing on the underlying factors is therefore essential. Changes can be achieved by identifying and reducing risk factors and reinforcing protective factors in young people’s lives. Such factors are identified through research.
Risk Factors Protective Factors
Biological, psychological, family, community or cultural characteristics associated with a greater likelihood of negative outcomes (e.g. poor social relationships, unsupervised leisure, academic truancy, psychoactive substance use by peers, etc). Factors associated with a smaller probability of negative outcomes or factors that mitigate the impact of the risk factor (e.g. good relationships with parents, participation in extracurricular activities, community ties, support from adults at school, supportive peers, etc.)
The model implements a number of interventions based on primary prevention through the 4 areas of young people’s lives in their communities.
Planet Youth in Vilnius
The Planet Youth model for the prevention of psychoactive substance use among young people was introduced in Vilnius in the autumn of 2020 in cooperation with the Vilnius City Municipality Public Health Bureau and the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA).
Activities designed to deliver the Planet Youth model:

The comprehensive deployment of the model includes many interdependent areas: monitoring, interventions in schools and communities, improvements to sports, health, and family leisure activities and infrastructure. In addition to preventing or reducing young people’s exposure to psychoactive substances, the aim is to further improve their engagement, create opportunities for meaningful activities and promote good health, relationships, environment and community ties.

One of the factors contributing to the success of the model is the establishment of a Coordination Group composed of various professionals working in health, education, youth policy, prevention and control of psychoactive substances, etc.

The main objectives of the Coordination Group include defining and approving the strategic direction of the Planet Youth model in Vilnius, supporting the communities/elderships in Vilnius that are involved in the deployment of the model, monitoring the progress, and ensuring that the process is consistent with the principles of the Planet Youth model. The Coordination Group also aims to give publicity to the activities and results of the model at the political level, as well as in government agencies and organisations.

Diagram of cooperation between the Coordination Group and the Vilnius City Community
Planet Youth cordinator: Monika Žūkaitė [email protected]
Target Outcomes
Reducing young people’s use of psychoactive substances and increasing their purposeful engagement, creating opportunities to engage in meaningful activities, and promoting good health, relationships, environment and community ties.
In the long term, improving infrastructure, reinforcing community ties, fostering healthy relationships between young people and the adults participating in their lives (parents, teachers, coaches), engaging multiple sectors, decreasing the use of psychoactive substances among young people, decreasing the supply and demand for psychoactive substances in the municipality.
In the short term, assessing pupils’ use of psychoactive substances and their ties to their immediate environment, including a completed assessment of the resources available for primary prevention and for reducing the supply and demand for psychoactive substances and resources; developing an infrastructure for purposeful engagement of young people in leisure activities; creating community ties; and strengthening pupils’ parental networks and involvement in the activities of the model.
Survey Results in Vilnius
The survey addresses key areas of young people’s lives, including:
including mental health
physical health
lifestyle and leisure
studies and school
psychoactive substance use
local community ties
economic and psychological matters
peer groups
internet use
parents and family
negative life events and pressures
values and attitudes
abuse and antisocial behaviour

The survey of 10th/II form (gymnasium) pupils provides an insight into the factors that contribute to young people’s psychoactive substance use habits and the changes that should be initiated in this regard. This process focuses in particular on the role of parents, formal and non-formal education teachers, and members of the local community with a view to reducing the risk of use and reinforcing factors that motivate teenagers to adopt positive behaviours.

The survey is followed up by district and individual school reports, which are essential in engaging communities in the preventive activities. These reports are used to identify risk factors and protective factors, which contribute to the planning and implementation of preventive activities by all stakeholders.

Based on the findings of the survey, preventive activities are designed and delivered in selected urban communities to guide young people away from alcohol and drug use by turning their focus on relationships, leisure, lifestyle, environment and well-being.

Data Matters
The Planet Youth model is based on a transparent framework for data collection, processing, dissemination and planned action:
involves school surveys
aims to provide useful information on how young people approach their lives
of the key findings to all stakeholders
in response to data findings
These data are significant because:
they reflect how well young people are adjusted to living in a particular municipality/eldership
they are timely and help identify young people’s exposure to risk factors and protective factors
they enable research-based activities to be developed in a given location, taking into account the presence of relevant factors

Research data sometimes reinforce what we already know or suspect about young people's lifestyles and settings. They nevertheless provide crucial information about the mental and physical well-being of our youth and enable evidence-based decision-making.

These data are significant because:
- Substance Use Prevention for Adolescents: the Icelandic Model
- Prevention is Possible: A Brief History of the Origin and Disseminations of the Icelandic Prevention Model 

- Data Collection Procedures for School-Based Surveys Among Adolescents: The Planet Youth in Europe Study
- Implementing the Icelandic Model for Preventing Adolescent Substance Use
- Development and Guiding Principles of the Icelandic Model for Preventing Adolescent Substance Use.
Please also see: