Increase in substance abuse during pandemic

August 18, 2022

The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has stepped up its community interventions to steer young people away from harmful substances.

Substance Abuse Officer for the NCDA's Eastern Region, Marisha Burgess, told JIS News that activities are targeted at youth deemed at-risk, who are not in school or training, and are being undertaken in partnership with the Social Development Commission (SDC).

"[We] have been going into communities with prevention and treatment programmes and sensitising communities about the services that we provide," she said

Burgess noted that there has been an increase in the abuse of substances during the pandemic and the support being provided by the NCDA aims to help persons to quit, while equipping them with the skills to make healthy life decisions.

Burgess noted that the intervention also involves setting up support groups where parents of substance users can benefit from help and knowledge about how to treat with situations that arise within the home. Among the NCDA's support programmes for young people is STRIVE, which is designed to address special segments of the population that are at higher risk for substance abuse. It was also targeted at children who are in State care due to abuse or abandonment, young offenders, school drop-outs or students that are failing academically.

STRIVE is a life skills programme that enables individuals to develop adaptive and positive behaviours to deal with the challenges of everyday life.

STEP UP is another NCDA initiative which targets in-school participants who are experimenting with drugs, but their use does not meet the clinical definition of addiction.

The programme is focused on providing students with access to help and information about drugs, development of social and life skills, strengthening school bonding and successful school experiences, development of self-knowledge and self-esteem, and recognition of strong and safe relationships.

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