JIS News

Story Highlights

  • 'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' captures the essence of what the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) strives for, in their effort to reduce the abuse of illicit drugs and substances among Jamaicans.
  • The NCDA has, since its inception, been working through partnerships with schools, communities, churches and corporate organizations, in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles among children, adolescents and adults.
  • As part of its mandate, the Council has the responsibility of implementing innovative programmes that promote and enable the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and resocialisation of individuals affected by drug abuse.

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ captures the essence of what the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) strives for, in their effort to reduce the abuse of illicit drugs and substances among Jamaicans.

The NCDA has, since its inception, been working through partnerships with schools, communities, churches and corporate organizations, in an effort to promote healthy lifestyles among children, adolescents and adults.

As part of its mandate, the Council has the responsibility of implementing innovative programmes that promote and enable the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and resocialisation of individuals affected by drug abuse.

The Drug Abuse Secretariat, established in 1984, has been advising national policymakers about issues related to drug abuse, in addition to providing statistical data to be used for the drafting and completion of policies.

Director of Information and Research at the NCDA, Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, states that the Council is fully aware of the many challenges associated with objectives to completely eradicate drug abuse in Jamaica. The Council has, over the years, been working ardently, through the implementation of projects and programmes, to encourage the wise use of abused drugs and substances.

“We have been successful, so far, in holding the prevalence of some of the most addictive substances in Jamaica to a very low plateau,” she told JIS News, during an interview, adding that the NCDA is working assiduously to mitigate the negative consequences of the abuse of legal substances, like alcohol and tobacco.

With this in mind, the NCDA recently launched its observance of November as Drug Awareness month 2011, under the theme “you’re sure to lose, if you abuse the booze” which focuses directly on the misuse of alcoholic substances.

Dr. Campbell- Grizzle says that the NCDA recognises that underlying the theme is the capacity of drugs to derail the nation, its communities and its people.

She notes that the Council had made a decision to design activities to tackle persons with alcohol problems during the month, because of the stark results garnered from recent research and from the last published National Survey.

Data retrieved from the National Survey, published in 2002, indicated that the psychoactive substance, alcohol, is the most abused in Jamaica. It also revealed that six percent of the population at the time, or 93,000 Jamaicans, had an alcohol problem.

Interestingly, the 2011 reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) points to the fact that alcohol is the main contributory factor in 60 types of diseases, and influences the development of 200 others.

“It is also an alarming fact that many boys and girls, across the region, start using alcohol between the ages of 10 and 14 years,” she adds, noting that the NCDA will be targeting adolescents, children between the ages of five and seven years, in addition to the parents of individuals belonging to those groups.

The upcoming activities include information fairs to be held at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre in Kingston on Friday (November 18), and at the Falmouth Health Centre in Trelawny on Wednesday (November 30), a parenting workshop, church services, poster competitions, public forums and a health fair in Portland.

Dr. Campbell-Grizzle says that the NCDA is seeking to highlight “the real problems and dangers associating with alcohol abuse”.

She also referred to an ongoing training session, called ‘counting your drinks’, which should help individuals distinguish how much alcohol is actually contained in a drink. Free brochures are available at the NCDA in Kingston and Montego Bay.

The aim of the month’s activities is to evoke national consciousness about the problem of alcohol abuse in Jamaica, in order to prevent the consequences.

Notwithstanding, the NCDA will also be seeking to enhance its volunteer base, which is also known as the Speaker’s Bureau, in an effort to include the expertise of all Jamaicans, both private and corporate citizens.

Dr. Campbell-Grizzle notes that, although the agency has its salaried team, it is pertinent that volunteers are trained to carry out functions on their behalf, to increase its coverage of communities that would normally be out of reach due to limited manpower.

“Currently, we have about 40 volunteers, and we are seeking funding to expand this programme, so that we can get Jamaicans trained to help staunch the problem of drug abuse,” she says.

She urges Jamaicans to join the volunteer group at the NCDA by sending an email to ncda@cwjamaica.com, or by calling the helpline (1-888-991-4244). Interested persons can also visit the office at 2-6 Melmac Avenue in Kingston, and at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Complex in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, St. James.

Applications will be mailed to individuals who have vested interest in joining the volunteer programme.

“We at the NCDA want to see behaviour change and we want to see it multiplying, so that the country can be seen as serious about its Vision 2030,” she said.

Jamaicans are encouraged to help spread the message that prevention is far more beneficial than the cure, and drug abuse can significantly damage the human body.

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