CASA launches workshop on drug education for secondary schools

THE CASA workshop for fourth form secondary school students in the North of the island, held at Almond Bay Beach Resort, can be described as educational and enlightening.

The workshop touched on various forms of drug and substance abuse, in an effort to bring home the message to the students from the five secondary schools present at the workshop on the dangers of drug and substance abuse.

Cheryl Griffith, Co-ordinator of the event and Volunteer Counsellor at CASA (The Centre for Counselling Addiction Support Alternatives)  told The Barbados Advocate, “In recent times, when looking at research, we have realised young persons are using drugs even earlier, and all the information they are getting is not what we want them to have. They are misinformed by those persons who are using them to get the drugs, so they in turn can get their money.”

“With everything going on in society, we decided for our sixteenth anniversary in April, to target the fourth form secondary school students, who in turn can go back and assist their guidance counsellors with getting the word over on the dangers of substance abuse.

“This is a great medium to get the message out there, because over time, it has been proven children relate to each other better and are able to get the message across, because children listen to their peers.

“Bearing this in mind, we decided to hold the workshop, inviting capable persons such as psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors to work with the guidance counsellors in the schools... So we decided to target the North first and involved the secondary school in the north to be a part of the workshop, and to further assist in the dissemination of information at their relevant schools.”

Griffith reiterated, “Hopefully our young persons taking part in the workshop can get informed information in making good lifestyle choices and reverse the trend, because one person at a time will make a difference.

“If we touch just one persons a day, that person can in turn touch someone else, and our objectives can be achieved of reaching the young persons within a given environment, to help reduce the cost of drug uses.

“Almond Beach Resort was very supportive of the programme when we approached them and we are grateful for their full support in coming forward to sponsor this noteworthy event,” she added.

Dr. Joann Brathwaite Drummond, Psychiatrist and one of the presenters at the workshop, delivered an informative two-piece presentation, “Drug and behaviour and Societal impact and Drugs and Mental Health”.

She said, “From my view as a psychiatrist, the two topics cannot be separated, because the impact on society and behaviour actually has a lot to do with the mental health aspect of drug use.

“We may not look at it like we have a serious problem with drug abuse in our country. Our young people are faced with the free availability of many different substances and abuse. Some of them are extremely potent and dangerous, and the choices they have to make are very difficult.”

She pointed out, “Young people do have mental health problems, and unfortunately many persons try to deal with mental health problems by escaping through using substances. Through ongoing education and the availability of rehab services, we definitely need to make sure there is funding for that, because in time to come we will need it.

“If it is one thing I hope the students participating in this workshop heard, is the only sure way to stop using drugs is never to start. It is my hope they took the message of abstaining and how dangerous some of these substances are. Nobody starts using drugs thinking that they will end up on the streets. Nobody sees that in their future when they start.”

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