KINGSTON — Governor General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, is urging more Jamaicans to play their part in helping those affected by drug abuse, noting that the problem continues to affect all areas of society.
“The whole matter of drug abuse is not discriminatory. Drug abuse affects every strata of society and is happening straight across the social sector,” he said, as he declared November ‘Drug Awareness Month’, during a ceremony at King’s House, today (October 31).
“Too many of us stand aside and watch as individuals struggle on their own. Sometimes they just need a little help from someone else,” he said.
The Governor-General said that more persons need to become more involved in the work of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), pointing out that the work of the agency often goes unnoticed.
“This is one of the programmes that need to be at the forefront…and so I continue to pledge my support to your work and commend you for the tremendous work that you are doing,” he told members of the NCDA.
Drug Awareness Month will be observed under the theme: ‘You’re sure to lose, if you abuse the booze’.
Executive Director of the NCDA, Michael Tucker, said drug abuse continues to be a major problem throughout the country, with alcohol being the most abused substance in Jamaica, and that the Council will be placing special focus on the abuse of alcohol.
“Unfortunately, it is often seen as a rite of passage for young men moving from being a child to a man and this misguided assumption is something we have to work on,” the Executive Director said.
Mr. Tucker argued that many young people get into significant problems because of the influence of alcohol and other drugs, including risky sexual behaviour. “Anecdotally, many of the young people that we speak to, have become pregnant because of the use of alcohol as they got into risky sexual behaviour,” he noted.
He said the spread of HIV/AIDS is also influenced by drug abuse and is also a major concern, because people often behave unwisely when intoxicated.
Mr. Tucker said the agency has also focused its attention on the reduction of non-communicable diseases, which are often caused by the abuse of alcohol, such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. “It is therefore very important for us as an agency to focus on the abuse of alcohol for drug awareness month, to ensure that there is a reduction of abuse,” he said.
The NCDA was established in 1983 to educate the general public about the dangers of drug abuse and to prevent the indiscriminate use of drugs. In 1984 the Drug Abuse Secretariat was established to assist the Council in carrying out the necessary administrative tasks.