A recent study has revealed that a growing number of young Barbadians, the vast majority of them males, are becoming addicted to multiple drugs, presenting those providing treatment with a splitting headache over how to treat the addicts.
The 2015 report released today by the Barbados Drug Information Network (BARDIN) at the National Council on Substance Abuse headquarters in Belleville shows that the dependence on a combination of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, crack and tobacco was rising among people under the age of 35.
BARDIN’s Research and Information Officer Jonathan Yearwood said the discussion among treatment centres had shifted from how to wean addicts off a particular drug to how to get them off the different substances.
“Before, conversations about drug use pertained to one individual drug. We could say a person had an alcohol problem, a marijuana problem, a cocaine or a crack cocaine issue, but what we are seeing now is that people admitted for treatment have used more than one substance, mainly either a combination of marijuana and cocaine, or alcohol and cigarettes.
“Before you were treating people for one drug in isolation, but if the patient has used a combination of marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol, do you use different treatments based on the drugs they are using – that is, wean them off the different substances over time – or is it better to examine the psychological and social issues behind why they started abusing drugs in the first place?” Yearwood said.
Worryingly, the study found that marijuana use among secondary school students was becoming prevalent, with 19 per cent of the 186 pupils referred to the Nicholls Centre in 2015 having used marijuana.
Of this total 89 per cent were male, and 73 per cent were between the ages of 14 and 15, Yearwood said.
He added that 37 per cent of the 51 patients seeking substance abuse treatment at the Centre for Counselling Addiction Support Alternatives were under the age of 20, while the Substance Abuse Foundation, which oversees Verdun House, the residential centre for men, and Marina House, a similar facility for women, is reporting 88 per cent of the people who sought their help for marijuana addiction were between the ages of 18 and 35.
Figures from the Psychiatric Hospital also showed that 93 per cent of the 178 patients seeking substance abuse treatment at that institution in 2015 were men.
Yearwood explained that of those patients, 38.8 per cent were in the 36-50 age group, 25.8 per cent were between 26 and 35, and 23 per cent were between the ages of 15 and 25.
“Although males outnumber females, we cannot say that females have equal access to treatment and are not taking these opportunities,” Angela Sealy, director of Clinical Services at Marina House said.
“Women tend not to go to the Psychiatric Hospital because of the stigma attached to that institution, and most of them have children and worry about who will look after them once they go in for treatment. However, once they get that issue resolved they are willing to come in for the initial 90-day period or longer depending on their circumstances.”
Sealy added that Marina House had so far dealt with women between the ages of 19 and 70, and alcohol was the main drug for which they sought help.(DH)