NCSA: Teen drug use not ‘nor­mal’

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - News -

THE HIGH PREVA­LENCE of mar­i­juana abuse among adults un­der 40 and sec­ondary school stu­dents in Bar­ba­dos is en­gag­ing the at­ten­tion of Gov­ern­ment’s chief re­search and ad­vi­sory body on drug abuse.

Man­ager of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Sub­stance Abuse (NCSA), Betty Hunte, has ex­pressed con­cern about a grow­ing per­cep­tion that il­le­gal drug use was “nor­mal”.

Hunte, speak­ing at yes­ter­day’s NCSA ser­vice at First Bap­tist Church in

The City to mark Drug Aware­ness Month, pointed to an Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Amer­i­can States re­port which stated that while to­bacco use among sec­ondary stu­dents was greater than mar­i­juana across the western hemi­sphere, Bar­ba­dos’ sec­ondary stu­dents pre­ferred mar­i­juana to to­bacco.

She fur­ther noted that one in eight men smoked ganja while two of ev­ery 100 women did the same, based on a house­hold sur­vey con­ducted by the NCSA.

Stat­ing there was a need for an­other sur­vey, since the last was in 2011, Hunte noted that in 2016 the mean age of first-time mar­i­juana use was 13.5 years, two-thirds of the is­land’s sec­ondary school stu­dents had used the drug by age 14, and just un­der five per cent of those stu­dents had used it by age nine; which was also the age at which most Bar­ba­di­ans were re­ported to have started con­sum­ing al­co­hol.

The NCSA man­ager also said those sec­ondary school stu­dents who be­lieved drug use was not harm­ful had nearly dou­bled from 8.8 to 15.7 per cent be­tween 2013 and 2016.

Hunte said the coun­try had reached this sad junc­ture be­cause of the lack of an ef­fi­cient mech­a­nism to har­ness suf­fi­cient data for pol­i­cy­mak­ers to al­lo­cate re­sources; be­cause peo­ple did not care about oth­ers im­pacted by the dis­ease un­til a com­mu­nity was stig­ma­tised, and be­cause it seemed to be no­body’s prob­lem.

“You are at risk and you have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do your part to re­duce what­ever you per­ceive to be the cause of drug abuse, crime and other be­hav­iours which seem to be im­pact­ing so neg­a­tively on the very de­vel­op­ment of our is­land,” she added.

Hunte said the NCSA would fo­cus on women in this month of drug aware­ness, since women were sex­u­ally vul­ner­a­ble in sce­nar­ios where they might be used as drug mules, fa­cil­i­ta­tors or in­ter­me­di­aries be­tween buy­ers and sell­ers.

(RJ)

(GP)

RON­ALD RUD­DER was shot dead on Fri­day.

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