'Tackle drug abuse on all levels'
Executives of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) say there needs to be a multidisciplinary response to tackle substance abuse.
NCDA Chairman Dr Wendel Abel said on Wednesday that the general approach to substance abuse was on many levels, including tabling policy.
Abel, speaking during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, central Kingston offices, cited the NCDA's numerous prevention and public education programmes and said with a new board in place, the organisation had scaled up its activities.
November is Drug Awareness Month and Collette Browne, the NCDA's treatment manager, said the council was bringing the nation's attention to the drug problem facing young people.
"So we're saying to the general population help us protect the youth. Start at home with the parents, with the (wider) family." Browne said there would be a mass media campaign against underage drinking.
"We're trying to get the youth to look at themselves, to be responsible."
While acknowledging more resources were needed, Michael Tucker, NCDA executive director, said substance misuse was facilitated at the community level.
"You have to have a buy-in at the community level that underage drinking and smoking are a problem." He opined that parents and caregivers facilitate drug abuse.
"People who have a child or loved one who see changes in behaviour, behaviour that points to them using drugs and knowing it or facilitating it by just giving money instead of tough love is another way of facilitating substance abuse."
parents not responsive
He said many parents don't attend the workshops, especially the fathers.
"When the teachers identify behavioural problems with the child, the evaluation is done," he said. "There are instructions given to the parents that the child must attend sessions, and often the parents do not ensure that."
He also chastised co-workers for not reporting signs in their colleagues.
"Instead of trying to point the person to the help, they try to ignore it or they facilitate it by accepting foolish stories that the person may give to secure funds to use or to acquire drugs."
Tucker noted there were laws against underage drinking and said the NCDA would be meeting with Commissioner Owen Ellington to look at enforcing those laws.
"It doesn't make sense you have policemen outside a party, trying to control the crowd going in, and not paying attention to what is happening inside."
He also felt stakeholders needed to ensure those who sell or promote alcohol to the youth should face significant fines.
"We feel that people's licences should be revoked if they are caught selling alcohol or tobacco to a child. And they should never have a chance of getting a licence to retail them again."
He said these people had to think more than about the bottom line.
"Young people do not know better. They have been told all along that ... the way you have fun is to drink, smoke and party."