THA tackles 'alarming' rise in substance abuse among men

Assistant Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Megan Morrison.  -
Assistant Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection Megan Morrison. -

THE THA's Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection plans to go into communities across the island in the coming weeks to address the issues of drug abuse, misuse and alcoholism.

Assistant Secretary Megan Morrison made the announcement on June 26 at the Alcohol and Arug Abuse Prevention Programme (ADAPP) symposium, titled Understanding Addiction, at Shaw Park Cultural Complex.

Morrison said men between 16 and 45 were most affected.

She said: “We would go out to the various blocks and so on, to hear from our young men as to how do they feel, what are they thinking, and bring back a report to the division to see if we can intervene and help in any way we can.”

She said the relentless efforts of the ADAPP unit must be acknowledged as they are tasked with combating substance abuse through prevention measures and interventions.

“Substance use and misuse have shown alarming signs of increase in our society. The impact is not only felt by individuals but a ripple (effect) through families, workplaces and the broader community.

"ADAPP has been at the forefront of tackling these challenges, implementing programmes aimed at intervention and education. Their work is fundamental in our fight against this growing epidemic, yet the scope and severity of issues demand more resources and support.”

The symposium, she said, is not just a platform to discuss the perils of alcohol and drug misuse, but also a call to action.

“We recognise the need for a concerted effort that involves support from both internal and external stakeholders. By fostering collaboration, enhancing resources and expanding our outreach, we can amplify the impact of ADAPP’s initiatives. Together we build a healthy environment; one that prioritises well-being and resilience.”

Referring to the International Day of Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking observed on June 26, Morrison said it was a stark reminder of the global fight against the drug epidemic. The theme for this year is: share facts on drugs, save lives.

“It emphasises the importance of spreading accurate information about drug risk and the benefit of prevention and treatment. Inaccurate information can lead to misconceptions and stigma, hindering our efforts to help those in need.”

The division’s administrator, Alicia Bailey-Job, said it was her pleasure to approve such programmes, as they sought to improve the lives of people.

“These are exactly the kinds of initiatives that the division was established to provide to our people here in Tobago.

"The staff at ADAPP carefully conceptualised the symposium and did the necessary groundwork to ensure that it is etched in our division’s annual calendar as our way of commemoration International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.”

She said everyone experienced tough days, owing to financial, physical, emotional or other challenges. Sadly, she said, some turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs and cigarettes – the negative spill-over effects from this could lead to heart-wrenching societal issues such as domestic violence and other serious crimes. It is within this context that I see this activity, its theme and objectives as very fitting.

"Through this symposium and other undertakings, we at the division of health, wellness and social protection continue to invest in preventative measures, initiate critical interventions, make key professionals available, provide up-to-date information to help with understanding addiction as well as to assist with efforts to address substance misuse in various spheres of influence.”

She encouraged ADAPP staff to continue to provide hope to substance abusers and their family members and friends who have witnessed their loved one undergo negative physical and mental changes.

Clinical psychologist Dr Alina Williams and THA director of community development Ann-Marie DeGazon addressed addiction and its effects on individuals and the family, respectively.


"THA tackles ‘alarming’ rise in substance abuse among men"

More in this section