By Anesta Henry
The Substance Abuse Foundation (SAF) is closely tracking the availability of the deadly and highly-addictive methamphetamine in Barbados.
Director of Clinical Services at SAF Allison Gotip said that the foundation has been keeping a close eye on the developing situation, in addition to ensuring that it has sufficient resources at the Verdun and Marina House to deal with any influx of clients seeking help for methamphetamine, or “meth” addiction.
In fact, Gotip revealed to Barbados TODAY that SAF, a stakeholder in the Barbados Drug Information Network (BARDIN), would have sounded the alarm since 2019 that a client admitted to the treatment facility indicated that they had used the stimulant that affects the body’s central nervous system.
However, the Director of Clinical Services said that the information the client provided made it difficult for the SAF to determine whether they accessed the drug in Barbados or overseas.
“Obviously there is still confidentiality and understanding where the client is at, so they might not have wanted to divulge much information. But this situation has definitely been on the radar for several years and that would have been fed to the BARDIN report, so already there was an alert. But then there was the need to get the factual report which came a couple weeks ago as it relates to methamphetamine being on island,” she said.
In late March, Minister of Home Affairs and Information Wilfred Abrahams announced during a press briefing that the Government Forensic Science Centre had confirmed the presence of methamphetamine in Barbados.
During the briefing at the ministry in Wildey, St Michael, Senior Registrar at the Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Ronald Chase, revealed that persons have allegedly presented to treatment facilities with addiction to meth. The doctor said that while the patients admitted to using the drug in the past, there was no scientific evidence to show that they used it in Barbados.
Also at the same press event, authorities reported intercepting a quantity of the drug being brought from Canada to Barbados earlier in March.
Gotip said during the exclusive interview that authorities have a right to be concerned about the presence of such a serious mood-altering substance on the island.
“At Verdun and Marina House, because we have our own research institute, we tend to look internationally and regionally at the trends. We are always preparing ourselves and making sure that we educate our staff in terms of methamphetamine and all of the new psychoactive drugs that are on the market.
“For example, heroin might not be a big issue in Barbados, but that does not mean that it is not here or that people aren’t using it. We are always seeking to get information from clients who are coming in about what is happening on the drug scene.
“We know already that these drugs can be very difficult to detect, but we would have put measures in place for a while now. We have 16-panel drug testing kits which means that we are also testing for drugs like methamphetamine and not just alcohol, marijuana, cocaine. We are ensuring as much as possible that we are ahead of the game or at least aware of it,” she said.
The clinical psychologist added: “Definitely we are on high alert as we are with anything. Sometimes what can happen is that we focus on the newer drugs on the market but we still have a problem regardless and it is impacting persons and affecting families.
“What we don’t want to do is to focus on one drug and not the others. What I can say is those who have come to say that they use methamphetamine, they normally say they have used it in conjunction with something else. But addiction is addiction so we have to make sure that we keep our fingers on the pulse.”