Anne-Marie Willoch, the gracious, gray-haired wife of the Norwegian prime minister, says that in her country, drug abuse reached a peak in 1980. Since then it has not increased, stabilizing at a statistically insignificant 4,500 addicts in a population of 4 million.
An innovative program of young field workers is responsible, she says. "It's important that police not be involved," though Norwegian drug control efforts are totally governmental, not private.
"Young workers go out into the streets, the parks and the railroad stations, where the drug users congregate. They talk to addicts, gain their confidence, offer help. The workers have the possibility of offering a bed for the night, if they need it, a place to wash themselves and their clothes, some meals. This is the first step towards treatment."
The Willochs' three children are of the age (24-29) most at risk in Norway. "I know drugs were available to my children. And I know they knew others who took drugs. But they never talked about it to me. The national emphasis on sports helps Norwegian young people. Our son, Dag Harald, spends all his time on the tennis courts. He doesn't even know where the streets of the city are," she says.
Life as the wife of the chief of Norway's government is "very different" from being Nancy Reagan, Willoch said. She works as a hematological laboratory technician. "It gives me security," she says. "With politics you never know." Willoch entertains, "but nothing like in America. I take visitors to our museums and ski centers. Sometimes we have dinners for 250 in Atershus Castle. All I have to do is come a half an hour before." At home, Willoch says, "the staff is me.
"We live in a semidetached house which we built when my husband was just out of school. His family lived on the same land. He never wants to leave it."