Form One students around the island are being educated about the immediate consequences of substance abuse.
The Substance Abuse Unit and the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force are spearheading the substance abuse prevention program.
Dubbed ‘The Life Skills for Drug Free Living Programe’, the initiative is aimed at providing students with the necessary skills to resist social and media pressure to smoke, drink and use drugs.
Acting Program Officer in the Substance Abuse Unit Nadiege Smith-Lambert says the programme is expected to develop greater self-confidence in students when making decisions about drug use.
“Given the media, you find that we have advertisements for alcohol and for tobacco and other drugs. Now, students are also seeing those messages that are sent out to adults and thinking that it is ok for adults then it is ok for us, minors,’ Smith-Lambert explained.
“So, we want to clarify that; it is not ok. It is legal drug, but it is not ok for minors to be using any of the legal or illegal drugs. So, at the end of the program, they basically develop skills such as refusal skills, self-control and raising self-esteem to be able to say “no” when they see those messages and goes out into the community and offered those substances.”
Sergeant in the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force Alex Morgan says it is necessary for students to be aware of the effects of drug use on their education and future development.
“We felt it was necessary for the safety of our children to understand the dangers of drugs and the harmful use of drugs – what it can do to them and how it can erode their future as well. So, we felt it necessary to work along with them and educate them as much as possible as to the dangers out there and what they can do to avoid themselves caught in the trap of drug use and its abuse,” Morgan said.
Assistant Counsellor at the Gros-Islet Secondary School Michelle Best, for her part, believes that program will lay a foundation for healthy decision making among students as it relates to drug use.
“We are hoping that the students will use this information for themselves in making the correct decisions and also for their peers; to help guard their peers cause we know most of the myths are prevalent to society are geared towards encouraging the students to use marijuana, to use drugs.”
The Life Skills for Drug Free Living program is delivered to students in six classroom sessions.