The changing trends in the abuse of illegal drugs will be high on the agenda of a stakeholders’ meeting next week on the Barbados National Anti-Drug Plan, approved last year.
Law enforcement officers have been grappling with increasingly sophisticated methods of drug trafficking, and local authorities will examine ways to address the problem when they meet at the Savannah Hotel next Wednesday.
“We have to begin the process of rolling it [the plan] out, implementing some of the new things, updating the plan as well, so that we can have a clear idea going forward for the next five years, where we’re going as far as drug control is concerned in Barbados,” Drug Education Officer at the National Council for Substance Abuse (NCSA) Wendy Greenidge said in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
She noted that research has shown that marijuana remains the most popular illegal substance on the island, while there are also cases of the use of crack cocaine, and smaller instances of ecstasy and heroin.
“But we can never be complacent and say ‘but that doesn’t happen here’ because we are a tourist-based island and when travellers come to Barbados they certainly do not leave their habits in the departure lounge from where they left.”
Greenidge said the NCSA remained concerned that alcohol is still the most “used and abused” legal drug in Barbados.
“If you think of it we use alcohol at every event, from birth right through to death – christenings, weddings, graduations, funerals – on every occasion we use alcohol.
“And we’re also an alcohol producing country. It is part of our culture but in all things there is a need for moderation. And it’s when we step over the line – and bearing in mind stepping over the line may be different for me than it is for you – that’s when we tend to see the problem,” she said.
Greenidge addressed the issue of drug abuse as the NCSA observes Drug Awareness Month under the theme Taking Charge of Change, saying it was a problem that needed urgent attention, as drug abuse affected families, communities and the workplace.
“There may be a co-worker who may be experiencing a substance abuse problem and you’re not aware of it. You just think they sleep every day or their behaviour is erratic, but you may not recognize it as being a substance abuse problem. Or they may have a child who may be experimenting with a particular substance . . . . It’s everywhere, and for us at NCSA it’s not only drug awareness month, it’s drug awareness day every day,” she stated.
NCSA is holding a series of activities this month to raise awareness of the dangers of drug abuse, including a Community Give Back programme involving staff serving breakfast at St Ambrose Primary School on January 31.
The drug awareness agency will also host Blue Week from January 22-28 to encourage Barbadians to get involved in drug awareness activities, while raising funds for Street Gospel Ministries Inc, a charity which works with individuals affected by substance abuse.