Volunteers working with the National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) will play a critical role in reeducating the public about health issues related to drug abuse.
This comes as Barbados gears up to launch its first Drug Treatment Court next month, which will seek to treat drug addicted offenders without incarceration.
Acting Manager of the NCSA, Betty Hunte, made this assertion during a volunteer orientation and awards ceremony at the Ministry of Home Affairs recently.
???We are trying to move drug abuse away from the criminal justice system. We recognise that it is illegal??? but we are also recognising that it is a public health issue. We need to start reeducating lots of persons on this whole issue of drug abuse,??? she said.
She added that volunteers were, therefore, crucial to the process of disseminating this new message. ???We actually have to bring more persons on board so that we hit the maximum amount of people in the shortest possible time but with factual information,??? Ms. Hunte explained.
The Acting Manager stressed that volunteerism was extremely critical to the work being carried out by the NCSA. ???We only have one drug education officer to service all the primary schools in Barbados, one for all the secondary schools in Barbados, and two for the entire community in Barbados,??? she pointed out, noting their work was supported by two officers in the Research Department.
Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Braithwaite, commended the NCSA for their work and told volunteers: ???If your efforts save one person, then it is worth it. In this Ministry we are about saving individuals???.
He noted that many young children in Barbados were told negative things, such as ???they will end up at Dodds???, and chided those who ???wrote off??? youngsters between the ages of eight and 10.
???Your role is not to write them off. Your role is to step into the breach and save those young people. One of the things about intervening is that you may not know unless someone comes and tells you. You don???t do it looking for that reward immediately. You do it knowing that in fact, if you made a difference somewhere along the line it matters to that individual,??? the Minister stated.