The Deputy Coordinator of the Substance Abuse Advisory Secretariat (SAAC), Joanna Joseph, has said that officials here are concerned and ‘a bit alarmed’ at the age of initiation in Saint Lucia for young persons using various drugs.
“Although we are speaking of illicit drugs but we also need to be aware that the drug abuse component does apply to other drugs,” Joseph told the Communication Unit of the Ministry of Health.
“We are seeing almost eighty something percent life time prevalence among our youth from our last survey in 2015 secondary school survey. These are very high figures for a small nation, so we really need to pay attention to what we do as adults and to our young people, making sure that we set the right examples that in our culture, in our society that we look at how we use drugs especially the ones that are not legal,” she declared.
“We may not recognize them as drugs but they are and we are talking especially about alcohol and the levels of alcohol use among our young people and the age of initiation which is most times under age twelve, on average twelve years old.”
According to Joseph, that is really young for people to be using a drug that can be so harmful if not used correctly.
“We also have high levels of marijuana prevalence which is like a quarter – 26 % of our young people, so we need to pay attention to what’s happening and to take the necessary policy, decisions and actions as families, individuals, as a community to ensure the safety of our young people, ” she observed.
Joseph spoke as Saint Lucia joined the United Nations General Assembly in observance of June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.