The recently published drug use report from the ONDCP has raised some concerns amongst the public concerning the nation’s youths.
The report conducted from a survey done in 2013 involving 12 schools in the country revealed that the use of illicit drugs including alcohol and marijuana, by high school students over the past years are on the rise and further recommended that drug prevention programs be implemented in all schools in Antigua and Barbuda, both primary and secondary.
Associate Professor in Behavior Sciences and Neuro Science at American University of Antigua Dr. Duey Myers said that the use of alcohol among students should be the biggest concern for residents.
“The biggest drug of concern for everyone, almost everywhere I’ve lived is alcohol and certainly that’s the case here. It is readily available, it’s inculcated into society, people use it all the time, it’s frequently seen being used by parents of students….,” he said.
School Principal Foster Roberts said that parents should be alarmed at the growing use of drugs among their children and also agreed that alcohol consumption is in fact the biggest concern. Roberts added however that society is to be blamed for the rise in the use of alcohol among youngsters because of its promotion through fetes and other events which targets the younger generation.
“Every use of drug starts somewhere and it usually starts with the one that is most readily available which is alcohol. If you notice from January every year for the past 5-6 years, almost every weekend is a fete and all of these fetes serve alcohol with over 70% of the patrons being young people because that is who they are targeting.”
He added that “as a society we have to be careful about what message we’re sending to our young people.”
According to the Secondary School Principal, if in fact changes are to take place to curb the high consumption of alcohol, then a shift in society is needed.
“If at all we’re going to curb the issue that is plaguing our school, we have to fix or society. What happens in our society spills right over into our schools so if everyone is drinking in society then it’s going to happen in our schools.”
He said that empty wine bottles or bottles of drinks containing alcohol like Night-train is customarily found in bins at the schools but added that “the students will never do it in front of you but they do do it in the schools.”
Director of the Caribbean Drug and Alcohol Research Institute Dr. Marcus Day said that based on research alcohol and tobacco consumption are the leading contributors to death around the world with approximately 70% of death in some parts of the Caribbean being linked to the two. He said that the problem is not the drug but the community.
“This is a community wide problem it has noting to do with substances. We have to reduce alcohol and get rid of tobacco as much as possible for the general health of our communities.
He noted, “We spend a lot of time talking about these illicit drugs but if you got 20 kids on crack cocaine in our schools..that’s manageable, that could be addressed with public health intervention but it’s the 70% of alcohol consumption that is gonna lead to diabetes and premature deaths not to mention violence and accidents.”