JIS News

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  • Regional Psychiatrist with the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Dr. Lizbeth Crossman, is appealing to parents and teachers to engage children in education on the dangers of drug misuse from as early as basic school.
  • In an interview with JIS News, Dr. Crossman said “the ways in which young people use and misuse drugs are usually dependent on what knowledge they are given and from whom they get the knowledge.”
  • The psychiatrist added that many persons are not aware of the negative effects of substance misuse on the body and in many instances the initiation takes place at an early age.

Regional Psychiatrist with the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Dr. Lizbeth Crossman, is appealing to parents and teachers to engage children in education on the dangers of drug misuse from as early as basic school.

In an interview with JIS News, Dr. Crossman said “the ways in which young people use and misuse drugs are usually dependent on what knowledge they are given and from whom they get the knowledge.” “We are encouraging education of our parents and children and it needs to start in basic, infant or prep schools, so that they can identify and understand a bit more about these choices that can be very deleterious to their health,” she added.

She was speaking against the background of the recently completed Phase 1 of the training of 50 mental health and counselling professionals on the latest techniques in drug treatment for adolescents, that was held in the Western Region from January 26 to February 1.

The psychiatrist added that many persons are not aware of the negative effects of substance misuse on the body and in many instances the initiation takes place at an early age. She added that parents and caregivers should also look out for change in behaviours in children and young people and seek help early because the earlier the intervention, the better it is for the child

“We are seeing the predisposition to serious mental illnesses. People are presenting with an initial diagnosis of psychosis at teenage, displaying behaviours such as not being in touch with reality, hearing voices, or believing things that are not in keeping with their social context, being withdrawn or being very aggressive. In a majority of these cases, after five years they may present with chronic mental illnesses,” Dr. Crossman said.

Young people are also being encouraged to read about drugs and the long lasting effects that many have on the body and mental health, and to become familiar with the research that has been done on the effects of drug misuse. “Recognise what the studies are saying and the risk of injury on the brain from the misuse of these substances,” she urged. Dr. Crossman added that in many cases the lure of the drug is exacerbated by a feeling of being invincible and that the tragedy of others could not happen to them. “If we don’t impact the behaviours now, we are going to be having significant challenges on both education and our social systems. We are seeing significant impact on the learning of our children. We will have more persons not being able to complete high school, have a job, provide for themselves and impact the nation positively,” she warned. “Drug misuse and behavioural problems can be life threatening and can lead to criminal behaviour. They will find ways to survive and to support the habit,” Dr. Crossman added.

 

Phase 2 of the training programme is currently underway in Kingston from February 4 to 10. The training is funded through a grant from the Organisation of American States/Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD) and focuses on adolescent brain development and substance use; principles of adolescent treatment intervention models; and best practices in youth drug treatment.

 

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