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Amid growing concerns over the rising number of women abusing alcohol, and the young age at which children are using drugs, the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) is rolling out a suite of new programmes to curb the growing trends.

And, one of the key areas of focus for the agency is the launch of the early warning system designed to identify new psychotic substances and their problematic use.

Speaking during a press conference to highlight activities to mark Drug Awareness Month 2020, Deputy Manager at the NCSA, Troy Wickham, explained that a meeting would be held sometime this week to establish a technical team for the reporting of the early warning system.

It would see the NCSA partnering with the United Nations on Drugs and Crime and the Canadian Border Security at the Regional Police Training Centre to train law enforcement officers and customs personnel how to handle new psychotic substances and identify them.

“That is important for us in the implementation process of the new early warning systems,” Mr. Wickham said, noting that the NCSA was making a conscious effort to increase its programming and visibility.

In addition, the Deputy Manager said that work on a new primary school survey was set to get under way this week.  The NCSA would seek to investigate substance abuse, and other indicators such as bullying and parental involvement.

“It is a national survey and we are very excited about it because it will help to inform some of our interventions as it relates to primary schools and secondary schools,” he said.

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However, he further noted that the agency was also seeking to roll out workplace programmes, and conduct further drug education programme sessions with church leaders as part of the month of activities.

Mr. Wickham also noted that the agency would be seeking to reach children across Barbados through its mobile classroom, the Life Education Centre, and establish a group counselling programme for persons affected by substance abuse.

Meanwhile, NCSA Manager, Betty Hunte, explained that the programmes would be rolled out over the next financial year as the agency prepared to “drill down” and find the real causes of drug abuse across the country.

“We see statistics from our treatment centres where men in general are reporting for treatment surrounding marijuana, crack cocaine, while females are presenting with alcohol use,” she said.

Mrs. Hunte added that the NCSA was presently seeking to tailor gender specific responses for its interventions for those impacted by drug use, and to ensure that its programming was based on research.

As a result, she noted that the agency had already started its base work on barriers, which affected women and how they were able to access treatment.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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