An article published on page 13 in the Nation newspaper of November 11th, 2022 and attributed to Anthony Griffith mentioned a survey undertaken by the NCSA in 2022 since “the intended IDB survey“. The NCSA would wish to use the same medium to clarify the following: –
The most recent school survey to be conducted by the Council was undertaken and released in 2020. This survey targeted primary school students ages 9-11 and sought to determine: the prevalence and frequency of drug use, common drug sources and locations of use, as well as the age of first use for various substances. It also assessed a number of factors typically associated with drug use, including perceived harm, curiosity, access to drugs, parental involvement, school experience, social media use, videogaming and bullying.
Just over half (56.2%) of all students reported the use of any drug during their lifetime, with alcohol being the most commonly used substance (lifetime prevalence = 51.7%) followed by energy drinks (lifetime prevalence = 39.7%) and inhalants (lifetime prevalence=20.9%). The use of tobacco cigarettes (lifetime prevalence = 4.8%), fanta (lifetime prevalence = 4.5%) and marijuana (lifetime prevalence = 4.3%) was much less common. The survey also confirmed that curiosity, perceived harm, ease of access, videogaming, social media use and bullying are associated with drug use within this population.
The National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) regularly conducts surveys among primary and secondary school students in an effort to monitor the local drug situation and advise on the development of relevant policies and programmes.
In addition to school surveys, the Council also has a number of other research initiatives which are used to guide an evidence-based approach to drug prevention at the national level, including the Barbados Drug Information Network (BARDIN). BARDIN is the mechanism used by the NCSA to collect and disseminate information on the local drug situation and is composed of several government and non-governmental agencies involved in drug demand prevention, treatment and drug supply reduction activities.
Its most recent report was released in May 2022, and this revealed that alcohol, marijuana and cocaine continue to dominate the local drug situation. However, there is evidence to suggest that drug use is slowly diversifying. Of note, is the emergence of non-traditional substances such as ecstasy, methamphetamine and various prescription drugs within both treatment and police seizure data. It should be noted that the data also suggests that males and persons 40 and under are more likely to use non-traditional substances and consequently seek treatment for their use.
Surveys carried out by the NCSA are undertaken after consultation and approval by key stakeholders. The results of these surveys are publicly available online at www.ncsa.gov.bb.
The NCSA remains committed to providing factual information regarding drug use among various sectors of the population in order to mitigate the myriad challenges which arise from the illegal use of drugs.