June 26th, has been designated by the general assembly of the united nations as international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. This was in response to a mandate to generate universal action dealing with the issues surrounding drug abuse as well as to provide an avenue for the expression of the will of nations to combat the drug menace in all its forms. In recognition of this significant occasion, I would like to share a few thoughts with you, the people of our nation, in whose hands rest the keys to the elimination of the scourge of drug abuse and its associated problems from our beautiful shores.
My people, each one of us wakes up every day faced with the challenge to provide for ourselves, our families and loved ones as best as we can, and although we may each be facing different situations, there is one thing that we have in common and that is our responsibility to live each day to the best of our ability. Although at first this may appear to be a fairly simple thing to do, after some reflection we will see that it really is a complex task which requires conscious thought and decision making in all aspects of our lives.
This is especially true when it comes to the issue of drug abuse. Every day around us we see the ill effects of the abuse of drugs, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, crack, cocaine or other similar substances. We see these effects in many different places and in many different forms; on the individual, in the family, in the workplace, in our schools and on our roads to name a few.
One of the questions that we need to address is whether the use/abuse of these substances enhances or improves our ability to meet our primary challenge; to live each day to the best of our ability. Honest reflection about this issue yields only one answer; that drug abuse in no way contributes to the improvement of the individual, the family, the community or the society.
The next logical question to be asked is why then is drug abuse so widespread that it has almost become commonplace in our society? To address this question, we first need to explore the various reasons why people use drugs such as these. Among the primary reasons why people start to use these drugs are; stress, boredom, peer pressure, curiosity, ignorance and to obtain a different perception or reality, to have an escape from whatever their present circumstance might be. Once this use has started, the nature of the beast of drug use is such that it becomes habitual and then eventually dependency develops. Chemical dependency is classified as an illness, which affects the physical, psychological and social well being of the individual and it is one of the largest single causes of loss of productivity in the world. It is chronic, progressive and socially infectious and because of its effects upon the total population, it must be considered a public health problem.
Our reality, is that it is indeed a public health problem, but it is one that we all need to take personal responsibility for, since it affects each and every one of us. We all see around us the results of the search for these perceived benefits of drug use; countless road accidents and fatalities, domestic violence and other problems within the family, poor performance both in school and at work, increased accidents in the workplace, job loss, and deterioration of health which in turn, places additional strain on our health care system. Then there is incarceration and a high rate of recidivism, which in turn places even greater demands on our legal system and our prison.
Another very serious problem which is exacerbated by drug use and to which we as a people pay insufficient attention is that of sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV/AIDS. One of the initial effects of many drugs especially alcohol, is a reduction in inhibition, which brings with it a diminished capacity for judgement and decision making. What this means therefore is that individuals are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, be it sexual or otherwise. Today, the entire world is struggling to find ways and means to deal with the HIV/AIDS epidemic which literally has a death grip on many nations. A small island developing nation such as our beautiful island of St. Lucia can be rapidly devastated by the social, economic and other effects of this illness and therefore we are all called upon to embrace our responsibility to ourselves and to each other, to act in ways befitting our purpose to live each day as best as we can thereby contributing to our own development as well as that of our nation.
The Ministry of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations and in fact the entire government of St. Lucia are dedicated to minimizing and eventually eliminating the problems which we are currently facing as a result of drug abuse. It is for this reason that we have two institutions, namely the substance abuse advisory council secretariat and turning point rehabilitation centre which are responsible for the prevention and treatment of drug abuse. Both of these agencies are part of The Ministry of Health, Human Services, Family Affairs and Gender Relations. In recognition of the fact that the first step towards overcoming the problems caused by drug abuse is ensuring that the number of abusers remains as low as possible, and that prevention begins with education, one of the main objectives of The Substance Abuse Secretariat is to raise awareness and supply the facts about drugs, their consequences and related issues to the general population. To this end, The Secretariat has worked and continues to work with numerous schools around the island, with places of employment, with communities as well as sporting groups, and with individuals, to ensure that a basic foundation of correct information exists regarding drug use and its related issues and that people have the necessary skills to make decisions regarding drug use.
The Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Detoxification and Rehabilitation Centre bare the responsibility for treatment of persons who have unwittingly succumbed to the ravages of drugs. This centre has a twenty bed capacity and provides excellent service to Saint Lucia as well as other islands of the Caribbean.
This year The Substance Abuse Secretariat and The Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre have planned a joint series of activities to address the issues surrounding drug abuse. June 26th, the day designated as International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking will be used to launch this series of activities which will continue for the duration of twelve months. The theme which was designated by the United Nations for this year’s activities is “Treatment Works.”
Upon first hearing this theme, it might seem to pertain only to those members of our society who are directly affected by drug abuse and encouraging and urging them to seek treatment, however, The Substance Abuse Secretariat and The Turning Point Rehabilitation Centre have decided to expand the notion of treatment to encompass all aspects of the problem. Therefore, we are committed to treating the problem of lack of information/awareness regarding the facts about drugs and drug abuse, the options available for a “listening ear”, advice and therapy. We are also committed to treating the problem of actual drug abuse in the various ways necessary; we are committed to treating the problem of stigmatization of drug abusers – and this one is quite a serious problem as it contributes to the reluctance of the abusers and their families to seek assistance; we are committed to treating the problem of after care, both for the users and their families or those directly affected. These are only some of the ways in which we intend to deal with the challenges of drug abuse and improving the quality of life for all of us here in Saint Lucia. So today, what I am seeking from you is a commitment to take a good look inside, take a good look around, to see our responsibility and our calling to a higher self, a greater good and to be a part of the ongoing programmes which will be taking place to combat the problem of drug abuse in our beautiful St. Lucia.
We are a powerful people, a great nation and together we can overcome. I would like to leave you with an invitation to contact The Substance Abuse Secretariat or Turning Point if there is any contribution you would like to make on this issue, or if there are any comments or questions that you have regarding any area of substance abuse, whether you are directly or indirectly affected by it.
You have my personal assurance that the people at these agencies would be happy to hear from you and offer assistance in any way they can.
Let us all commit to living each day as best as we can, embracing our responsibilities to ourselves and to each other, thereby contributing to the growth of our nation.
My challenge to you is this, starting on June 26th, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, do one positive thing, make one positive change : smoke one less cigarette, have one less drink, give a child one more hug, find out one more piece of information, let us all extend a hand one more time.
Mé fwé ék sé, venn sis jen sé an jou ki ogannizasyon létaz-uni ja mété asou koté pou nou wéflechi asou abizman ék vant dwóg ki kont lwa. Mwen vlé pwan an ti mouman pou ba’w katjil mwen asou lokazyon sala.
Sent lisyen kon mwen menm, tou-lé-jou nou lévé an kabann,nou ka chongé difikilté-a nou ni pou fé povizyon pou fanmi nou ék sa ki pwé nou. Nou tout ni weskonsabilité-a pou fé toute sa nou pé. Magwé I ka pawét senmp, I sé yonn ki méwité anpil katjil.
Tou-le-jou nou ka wé tout oliwon nou donmaj abizman dwóg kon wonm, marijuana, crack, cocaine ében lót dwóg an diféwan mannyé ka afékté ni endividi, lafanmi, plas twavay eben an lekól.
Yon kesyon nou ni pou mandé kó nou sé, és sevis eben abizman dwóg ka wendé nou viv an pli méyé lavi? Ek wepons-la sé janmen!!!
Lót kesyon-an ki enpótan pou nou katjilé asou sé, pou ki wézon abizman dwóg télman popilé an sosyété-a? Adan sé wezon-an sé, abizman katjil moun, (sayo ka kwiyé stress), lavi ki pa entéwésan, pressure hód kanmawad, anvi pou sevi dwóg, innyowans, ék pou wé lavi diféwan.
Dépi nou lévé bet-la yo kwiyé dwóg, I ka difisil pou doubout-li, ebeh pou viwé mété’y kouché.
Mwen asiwé ou kay dakó sa sé an poblenm ki ka afékté sitiwasyon santé piblik péyi-a séwyéman.
Sa sé an poblenm ki ka afékté tout moun ék nou chak ni an wéskonsabilité pou fé kéchóy pou fé sitiwasyon-an pli méyé.
Lé nou gadé owan nou, ki sa nou ka wé kon wézólta bennéfis abizman dwóg? Aksidan asou aksidan koté moun ka péd lavi yo, vyolance domestic ék lót poblenm ki ka afekté la fanmi-an, mové performans an lekól ék twavay ék plizyé lót poblenm kon maladi HIV/AIDS.
Jodi, toute laté-a ka goumen kont maladi a ék ka chaché pou an mannyé pou anpeché ‘y détwi tout laté-a.
Nou kon an ti peyi ni pou otjipé belté ék dignité péyi-a. Si nou pa fé sa, maladi HIV/AIDS kay détwi tout sa nou ka kwiyé sent lisi.
Minis santé, sevis humanité, zafe lafanmi ék wilasyon nonm ék fanm ansanm épi gouvédman jennewalman, ja moutjwé konmitman’y pou goumen kont abizman dwóg an tout fason.
Nou ja bay dé ajans wéskonsabilité pou éséyé anpéché ék twété abizman dwóg. Tou-lé-dé anba kondwit minis santé.
Biwo pou abizman dwóg ka twavay ék manmay lekól, konmin ék moun an plas twavay pandan centre turning point-la ka kontiné wendé moun ki ka éséyé kité eben sóti anba kontwól dwóg.
Koumansé venn sis jen sé dé ogannizasyons-an, kay koumansé plizyé aktivité pou endiké sitwayen péyi-a, asou konsékans abizman dwóg. Tem-la ki kay sévi pou sé aktivité-a sé: “twétman ka twavay”.
Sa mwen ka mandé’w jodia, sé pou gadé andidan kó’w, ek oliwon’w pou wé wéskonsabilité nou, ék pou patisipé an sé aktivité-a séwyé.
Nou sé an nasyon moun ki sewyé ék si nou fé lidé nou ansanm épi yonn-a- lót, nou sa détwi poblenm la.
Mwen ka mandéw pou jounen venn sis jen, fé yon bagay positive. Fimen yon sigawét mwens, pwan yon bwé mwens, anbwasé an ti manmay, chaché pou pli enfómasyon ék annou bay an lanmen, yon fwa ankó.
I thank you.
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