Increase in substance abuse among St. Lucian school-goers

By Ministry of Health

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unnamed-6PRESS RELEASE – Health and Education officials have noted an increase in the number of substance abuse cases among the island’s school age population.

Officials indicate that many of the disturbing behavioral patterns exhibited by students usually has some element of substance abuse as an underlying factor.

The Director of Turning Point Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Joanna Joseph, called on parents to pay closer attention to their children’s behavior and academic performance.

“With the young ones we find parents tend not to believe.  They see the signs, they see the red eyes from school, the frequent headaches, the smell sometimes of marijuana, the grades going down and the personality changes are really, really important.  Sometimes you wonder why there is so much violence among our young people, it could be very well related to the withdrawal effect of marijuana and the addiction to marijuana we are seeing is quite rampant in the schools.  No longer are we seeing many students coming into Turning Point with just minor problems of marijuana. Most of the students who came in to us last year had to be admitted residentially because the addiction was so serious to marijuana that they were not able to stop on their own.”

Chief Education Officer, Marcus Edward, agrees that substance abuse is a major issue within the schools; one that the education sector is working hard to address.

“There are many, many instances where we have had to refer children who are presenting at schools with behaviours which we consider to be out of the ordinary and so we have referred them in many instances to the drug rehabilitation programme at Turning Point…There is no denial that we have a serious drug consumption problem in our schools.”

Edward said the Ministry of Education has sought government’s approval via funding from the Caribbean Development Bank, for  the establishment  of a Drug Awareness and Education programme targeting primary to secondary school students under an Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP).

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“It is not just the secondary school students that are presenting with those problems but we are seeing the manifestation of the drug use even from the primary school level.”

Edward added that some parents are at their wits end in coping with their children’s substance abuse issues while other are in complete denial.

“And I can say to you ninety percent of the time when I pose the question directly to the students, it is a revelation in the office when the children confess to be actively taking drugs. And so the parents need to be vigilant. They need to support the Ministry of Education in its fight to ensure that the children come to school free of any of those effects. Because when the children reach the schools, they are under the influence of drugs. We cannot teach them. They exhibit all kinds of negative behaviours, the teachers are at their wits end with how to deal with them because we don’t have the capacity to be able to calm and to treat those children who are in school but under the influence of drugs.”

Though Turning Point has played a critical role in rehabilitating my student the Ministry of Education is actively seeking  to establish drug preventative and education programmes  targeting both students and parents.

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6 comments

  1. A little weed never kill nobody

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  2. Peer pressure causes a child to turn to drugs. A malfunction home also. Some homes already have family members who use drugs so the kids try and get addicted. The best thing as parents and guardians is teach our kids there more to life than just drugs. Show love to your kids . Spend quality time with them. Get to know your child Inna thoughts and behavior. Let your child feel there is need for a friend but the type of friends. Parents work at peace with your kids. Stop shouting and pushing them away otherwise they look for means and ways to help their minor issues with drugs, stealing, killing etc. Let's help each our kids .

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  3. Parents should be fined. Those students and pupils found selling on school grounds should automatically be isolated to Reform schools until they are way past 21 years. By that age they should understand the wickedness of their ways.

    Such vermin should be treated as the virus that they are. They should be educated to understand their corrosive effects on the whole society and on the lives of people, some forced to suffer from the first time they take the drugs until the day they eventually die.

    We have too many drug-dependent people struggling to make sense of their environment.

    We have just too many deranged zombies walking our streets to add even new crops from our schools? Take those coots away from the rest of the society until they come to their senses.

    Adults proved to be involved directly or indirectly, providing drugs to school children, should get an automatic mandatory full term 25 year sentence.

    The UWP should rush an emergency bill at the next sitting of the House, taking it through all three stages of passage, in just one sitting. But that is if the UWP is serious about nipping this next round of the drug zombie curse in the bud.

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  4. That's what people who don't live in big houses on hill tops away from the common folk already know. And that's why the issue should not be the legalization of marijuana, to meet the selfish needs of "marijuana crazed" adults, but rather how we can get young people to live their lives without being "stoned out of their minds" each and every day.

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    • Agreed, we live in a constant pleasure seeking society. While we so called Christians looking for the next "high", what about Christ becoming that "high" so to speak.

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  5. This is the truth, children start drinking younger than ever now. I started around year 2 in A Level now i hearing students in form 3 ditching school and getting drunk on the beach.

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