MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University researcher is working in two counties to apply lessons about peer groups from Iceland where he says teenage use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco has been “virtually eradicated.”

Alfgeir Kristjansson, assistant professor in WVU’s School of Public Health, says the island nation pushed to replace unsupervised, aimless leisure time with purposeful, organized activities that help them cope with stress, fill their need for camaraderie and provide a goal to pursue as a team.

According to the university, he’s working with teachers, parents, police and health professionals in Wood County to affect middle school and high school students, who “are products of their social environment,” and expanding into Calhoun County.

Kristsjansson says in addition to sports, art, filmmaking or religious activities could serve the same function.