NDC urges schools to talk about drug misuse

| 21/06/2012

smoking-crack-cocaine.jpg(CNS): As the Cayman Islands joins the global community in commemorating International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June, the National Drug Council is asking schools to dedicate teaching time or hold events to highlight the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, free from alcohol, drug and substance misuse and abuse. This year’s theme is “Global action for healthy communities without drugs”, which the NDC says poses challenges to the educational system both in terms of health and educational outcomes. Substance abuse has been linked to academic difficulties, absenteeism and school drop-out and the NDC boss said schools play a crucial part in keeping students drug free.

“The active participation of educators, school support staff, students, officials and parents is required to offer the necessary support to those within our schools that abuse substance and to implement evidence-based interventions that prevent substance use in schools,” said Joan West-Dacres, Executive Director of the NDC. “Schools have a critical role to play in improving awareness and equipping students with strategies to make informed decisions about substance use.”

Substance use has a detrimental effect on the prosperity and health of all nations and is well recognised as a significant barrier to both teaching and learning. It has been associated with a host of high-risk behaviours, including crime, illiteracy, unprotected sex and violence, mental and physical health, and traffic accidents.

According to the 2010 Cayman Islands Student Drug Use Survey conducted among Years 7-12, about 54% of students have used alcohol in their lifetime, with 32% engaging in binge-drinking (5 or more drinks in one sitting) during the past month. The study also showed that while 20% of students have used marijuana (ganja) in their lifetime, 14% have smoked cigarettes during the year prior to the survey.

The National Drug Council is currently analyzing the data from its most recent survey conducted in the schools in April of this year.

Despite these frightening statistics, the NDC pointed out that many of Cayman’s students are choosing to refrain from any drug use. The 2010 survey results showed 54% of students not using any drugs. 57% of them also reported that their parents take the time out to talk to them about the importance of avoiding alcohol and drugs and over 40% report being involved in wholesome activities, such as youth groups or sporting practices, weekly.

The commemoration aimed at sensitising the public about substance abuse and its devastating impact on individuals, families and communities will mobilise communities and stakeholders in combating substance abuse. The NDC said it would be preceded by public and private school presentations, youth dialogues, media campaigns and distribution of pamphlets and information sessions. The NDC also stated that it would be pleased to provide support anytime through presentations during the school year.

For more information please call the NDC at Tel. 949-9000, Fax. 949-6264 or email:
info@ndc.ky or visit us at www.ndc.ky

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