What Ails You
Sunday, 26 August 2012 02:30
By D Francis
Antigua St. John’s - Substance Abuse Prevention Officer Norma Jeffrey-Dorsett said she is concerned about recent reports which have surfaced regarding the increased use of alcohol amongst underage youth.
“People have been coming to me lately expressing their concerns about the issue of young people consuming a lot of hard liquor, not just the beer and so on, and news of this nature is very troubling to me. If this is the case, something must be done urgently to stop this practice from reaching detrimental proportions,” she told Caribarena.
Jeffrey-Dorsett said the last time a survey was done on the use of drugs, including alcohol, among secondary school students was in 2005. The report was released in 2009 due to some unforeseen challenges and in that report, it was noted that girls reported more alcohol use than boys.
“That was in 2005 when that survey was done and we are hearing about the open and increased use of alcohol among youths now in 2012. I mean, young people can go out and have fun without the use of alcohol.
“We have to examine the reasons for this and how we are going to deal with it as a collective force. I also got many reports during the carnival celebrations of the behaviour of people in general due to over-indulgence in alcohol. Where does it stop? How can we reach a turning point where this issue is concerned?” she asked.
Jeffrey-Dorsett warns: “For those young people who are indulging in this habit, let me say to you, ‘stop it now, you run the risk of encountering so many dangers when you abuse alcohol in particular. You have to remember your bodies are still developing and you can also suffer from alcohol poisoning and usually you are not in control as well as older people when you abuse alcohol; you can be taken advantage of’.”
She is appealing to young people to give themselves a chance to develop fully, as early drug use (alcohol) can hamper their growth and rob them of their full potential in life.
To those youth who are saying they cannot wait to reach 18 years, she said: “Reaching 16 or 18 years does not mean maturity. Having sex and drinking as you like because you reach the age of consent can result in serious consequences. It has to do with responsibility and self worth and looking ahead to a sound future. Find positive alternatives and exciting mediums through which you can channel your energies instead.”
Asked about what she believes are some of the reasons for getting reports of increased alcohol use among youth, Jeffrey-Dorsett gave her take.
“One of the reasons I think is the easy availability of alcohol. Another is that many young people have more money at their disposal than before, believe it or not, although we are facing hard economic times.
“Another thing which is of great importance also is, there is not as much parental or adult supervision around like before; grandmothers are definitely getting younger, thus, very active at work, the extended family is not as prevalent as they use to be, and also, a lot of the adults/parents are openly drinking rum so the young people follow suit.”
She used the opportunity to appeal to parents to be more vigilant and exercise more control over their children’s habits and activities.
Jeffrey-Dorsett said another survey on drug use in the schools will be held within the next few months, sponsored the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD).
The organisation will be putting the mechanisms in place to carry out the survey and present the findings to authorities for appropriate action to be taken, she added.