NCDA concerned about increased drug abuse
COVID-19 has increased the probability of children and adults wanting to experiment with drugs and alcohol, creating concerns among advocates about drug and substance abuse.
Michael Tucker, executive director of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), told The Gleaner that with COVID-19 cases increasing at the community level, more people will become stressed and may want to experiment with drugs.
“We are very concerned about the future and what may happen down the road,” Tucker said.
He shared that with schools closed and diminished services being offered at agencies that would normally refer at-risk persons to the NCDA, the entity has had to reach out to the public via the Internet or telephone.
In the past two months, the NCDA has received close to 300 calls from stressed individuals who are tempted to use drugs, Tucker said.
“A lot of them are affected by the COVID-19 situation and the stresses that are caused by it. Some of them could have started to use (drugs), and some of them are exploring the idea. We have ramped up (online and telephone services) because prior to COVID-19, we would have referrals from school guidance counsellors, teachers, correctional services, parents, the police, and the Drug Courts.
“But that kind of network, with the COVID situation, doesn’t work as effectively as it used to, so we would have to depend on people making contact through social media platforms. It is concerning to us.”
He called on parents to be more responsible and not set bad examples by using alcohol and drugs around children, as they may see it as a way of coping with the stresses associated with being away from school and having less activity and playtime.
Tucker said the NCDA is in need of more resources to continue its fight against drug abuse.
“Parents need to be a good example for the children, because they sit down and have a grand time drinking liquor with friends, but they don’t realise that the children are watching them and thinking that that must be something good because mommy and daddy are having a good time with their friends, so why shouldn’t we?
“The kids have missed summer, when they would have recreation and go on vacation. Both children and parents have missed summer. They have to adjust to the online platform to get lessons and on top that, some of them have challenges with Internet, and some of them don’t even have a computer or a smartphone. That has been very stressful for the parents, having to deal with the online situation and trying to help the children with recreational activities that would normally be provided by the school.”
“On top of this, many parents have lost their jobs. For those parents who are business people, their business has diminished significantly. They don’t have the revenue stream they usually have, especially if they are into foods and depend on an evening crowd. We can’t hold up a flag and say we are being treated unfairly, but what we need is more human and financial resources. We need to do some more work with the schoolchildren, because we don’t even know when school is going to reopen.”