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LETTER OF THE DAY - Start outpatient substance-abuse treatment programme for youths

Published:Thursday | May 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM


GIVEN THAT May is designated as Child Month, RISE Life Management Services feels obligated to appeal to the powers that be to begin to seriously plan and implement an intensive outpatient substance-abuse treatment programme for our school-based youth faced with drug-use issues. At present, having these adolescents in the regular school system has failed as they are either eventually expelled or they drop out of the system.

We at RISE have been privileged to work with the addicted youth (99 per cent male), some as young as nine years old, and the guidance counsellors who are overwhelmed in the school system. Most youth who are causing problems within the school system as a result of drug use (mainly ganja) will continue to do poorly until a structured and meaningful intervention takes place.

By "structured" and "meaningful" we are talking about an intervention that is balanced and takes into consideration both the need for remedial work on the academic side and consistent and intensive substance-abuse rehabilitation efforts on the other. Our substance-using youth should not be in the regular school system until their substance use has been arrested; then they can return to the regular system.

Intensive treatment programme

What is required is a three-to-six-month intensive outpatient treatment programme that provides on a daily basis three hours of remedial work relating to academics and three hours of substance-abuse treatment work, inclusive of motivation for change, goal setting and other change-enhancing processes in an environment organised for recovery. The regular school system does not provide this setting.

Until then, we at RISE will continue to make an impact with the finances provided through the National Health Fund and other well-thinking organisations. The intensity of our interventions with our youth must begin to match the intensity of the problem.

May is Child Month. let's step up to the plate.

Richard Henry

RISE Life Management Services