NCSA stepping up drug education in the workplace

The National Council on Substance Abuse (NCSA) is implementing more initiatives targeting the workplaces.

The council is furthering education and awareness under the theme ‘Our Workplace, Our Future: Our Future, Our Workplace’ in recognition of Drug Awareness Month, which is observed in January.

The Barbados Drug Information Network (BARDIN) Report indicated that “productive citizens, persons under the age of 65”, are some of the most negatively impacted by substance use and abuse.

Public Relations consultant Deanzer Roberts said that as a result of the findings, the organisation intended to focus on the workforce and heighten employers’ awareness of the services offered by the NCSA, including assistance with the development of workplace drug policies, as well as greater substance abuse education and counselling.

“Rapid assessments to investigate if there is a substance use or abuse issues present in the workplace, would allow the council to remedy any issue with an evidence-based approach,” she said.

Roberts added that the council would be targeting stakeholder organisations such as the Barbados Small Business Association, Barbados Employers Confederation, Barbados Coalition of Service Industries and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“We will be conducting a series of awareness presentations which will highlight our services, highlighting our research findings, hosting a panel discussion on the differences between recreational and medicinal cannabis as well as conducting interventions with various organisations during our month of activities,” she said.

Organisations would also be encouraged to become Recovery Friendly Workplaces (RFWs) to promote a healthy, safe and productive work environment for those impacted by substance abuse.

Listing several benefits, Roberts said the introduction of RFWs would lead to improved employee morale, engagement and productivity as well as decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime and turnover. It would also minimise healthcare costs.

Additional research data suggested that alcohol, marijuana and cocaine continue to be the dominant substances of choice, but the local drug situation is slowly diversifying with the emergence of substances such as ecstasy, methamphetamine and various prescription drugs.

However their presence remained minimal in comparison.

Additionally, the data indicated that the majority of people who sought treatment for substance use disorders in Barbados were typically age 40 and under. Males seeking treatment also far outnumbered their female counterparts.

Roberts suggested that it might be due in part to various treatment barriers experienced by women, such as the lack of child care or fear of stigmatisation. She stated that it should not be taken as an indication that men are more in need of treatment in Barbados.

Consideration, she said, would also need to be given to high-risk periods in a person’s life including adolescence and periods of transition such as changing schools or jobs, marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, and job loss, as these are typically associated with increased risk for drug use and abuse. (JK)

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