NCSA: Teen drug use not ‘normal’
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.
RONALD RUDDER was shot dead on Friday.