Substance abuse can affect the development of a young person’s brain, which in turn, lessens their ability to resolve conflicts. This is according to the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA).
As reported by the NCDA, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are reported to be the most abused drugs by young people in Jamaica. In fact, alcohol tops the list with 45% of youngsters, especially boys, misusing it. Over 80% of adolescents who use alcohol, report that they started before age 14. Recognising this need for intervention and prevention, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has developed several initiatives to offer support.
Child Diversion Programme
Led by the Ministry of Justice, this programme seeks to steer young people away from delinquent behaviour by providing positive alternatives. These include mentorship, vocational training or admission into an academic institution, counselling and behavioural therapy. Admission is normally granted through a recommendation from law enforcement or caseworkers. However, if any member of the public is aware of a young person who needs guidance, they can contact the NCDA for help.
This initiative offers a holistic approach to substance abuse prevention by supporting families of at-risk youth. The NCDA deploys trained youth facilitators into communities to select families where guidance on parenting, goal setting, stress management and proper communication is offered.
‘Talk di Truth’ – Mentorship Programme
This programme is geared towards marijuana use and awareness and was an offshoot of the amendments to the 2015 Dangerous Drugs Act. With the highest rate of substance abuse being reported among 10th graders, the programme, administered by the NCDA, trains high school students to become peer educators where they are tasked with observing specific issues in their school and recommending programmes that could help.
The Resistance Education Against Drugs (READ) programme provides participants with the ability to recognise negative behaviour linked to drug abuse to reduce the likelihood of misuse. The NCDA offers this programme upon periodic visits to schools. READ programmes are offered at three levels:
- READ Junior – ages 5 to 7
- READ in the Middle (Rory’s World) – ages 8 to 11
- READ Plus – ages 12 to 17
Public Education Campaigns
These campaigns inform members of society on drug abuse trends, their impact and how to get help. Presentations are led by the NCDA with the support of churches, libraries, businesses, schools, among others. They often happen on annually recognised days for substance abuse such as Love Not Drugs Day (February 14), World No Tobacco Day (May 31), International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26) and Drug Awareness Month (November).
In January 2020, 77 young people of the 171 who participated in counselling sessions, successfully recovered from substance abuse, and were publicly recognised. Those who recover are honoured by the GOJ through partnership with the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III and the NCDA.
For additional information, contact:
National Council on Drug Abuse
13 Molynes Road
Telephone: 876-926-9002-4 /1-888-991-4244
Ministry of Justice (MOJ)
61 Constant Spring Road
Toll Free: 1-888-4-justice (587-8423)
Child Diversion Officers: