Sami youth stay clean


IQALUIT — A study involving 3,000 youth in northern Norway shows Sami drink less — and drink less often — than their peers of Norwegian and Finnish descent.

According to Sami researchers from the Centre for Sami Health Research, Sami rates for drug and solvent use were lower than those of their peers.

Only 4 per cent of the young people said they had used marijuana or hash, while only 2 per cent had used hard drugs.

“These findings are in contrast to other Arctic indigenous adolescents whose rates of substance use exceed rates found among majority adolescents,” said Dr. Anna Rita Spein.

A higher standard of living may be responsible for this difference, Spein suggested.

Parents’ alcohol use was also part of the study. Twice as many Sami parents abstained from alcohol as did parents of other Finns and Norwegians.

Spein said evangelical religious beliefs have contributed to many Sami swearing off alcohol.

Despite the figures on drug and alcohol use among the Sami, they are often reputed to be heavy drinkers — probably because they prefer to do their drinking outside the home in bars, Spein said.

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