(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Saint Lucia joined the United Nations General Assembly as a collective group as it observes 26 June as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
International Dayagainst Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffickingis supported each year by individuals, communities and various organizations all overthe world. This global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society. The theme for this year’s observance is “Listen First – Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.” The theme focuses attention to increase supportfor prevention of drug use. Deputy Coordinator of the Substance Abuse Advisory Secretariat(SAACS), Joanna Joseph said, persons need to work together to safeguard the youth from drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
“We are concerned and a bit alarmed at the age of initiation that we are seeing in Saint Lucia for our young persons into various drugs and although we are speaking of illicit drugs but we also need to be aware that the drug abuse component does apply to other drugs so we are seeing almost eighty something percent life time prevalence among our youth from our last survey in 2015 secondary school survey. These are very high figures for a small nation, so we really need to pay attention to what we do as adults and to our young people making sure that we set the right examples that in our culture, in our society that we look at how we use drugs especially the ones that are not legal we may not recognize them as drugs but they are and we are talking especially about alcohol and the levels of alcohol use among our young people and the age of initiation which is most times under age twelve, on average twelve years old.That is really young for people to be using a drug that can be so harmful if not used correctly, and they wouldn’t know how to use it correctly they are very young. We also have high levels of marijuana prevalence which is like a quarter 26 % of our young people so we need to pay attention to what’s happening and to take the necessary policy, decisions and actions as families, individuals, as a community to ensure the safety of our young people. ”
Joseph addedthe first step as a department is to inform persons that this day exist,thereafter design programs and a deeper lever of intervention for 2019. She said SAACS felt that it was fitting to bring attention to theInternational Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking,in order to have a greater observance and sensitization among the population of this phenomenonpertaining to drug abuse in the country.