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Teenage alcoholism and drugs on the rise

By ANDRE BAGOO Thursday, July 3 2014

ALCOHOLISM and drug addition are on the rise among teenagers, Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday, as he linked addiction to untreated cases of depression.

In a feature address at the launch of a National Drug Policy 2014, Khan called for a focus on the reduction in the demand for drugs, alongside efforts to combat drug-trafficking.

“We have in this country an increasing amount of alcoholism among teenagers and adults,” the Minister of Health said. “In schools, teenage alcoholism and teenage drug addiction believe it or not is on the rise.”

The event, held at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, was hosted by the Ministry of National Security in collaboration with the National Drug Council and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It was held to also mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse, which was observed on June 26. The Minister of Health emphasised addiction was a disease which required treatment.

“Addiction is a disease,” Khan said. “It is a disease of behaviour, of the mind, of the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe.” He linked drug and alcohol consumption with mental health, making a co-relation between addiction and depression.

“When people suffer from depression, they turn to something that will make them feel good,” he said. “Alcohol is a legal drug, a mood-enhancer.” He noted the stigma which surrounds mental health generally.

“There are professional people in this country who are ashamed to seek help; to say that they have a problem,” Khan said. He called depression, “a cunning, insidious, baffling disease. It holds and destroys you.” The Minister said one in four adults have a mental health issue and said the State is trying to put procedures in place to deal with the stigma of mental health issues. He also noted how many simple medications affect mental health.“A lot of people are not aware of how simple prescription drugs change behaviour.”

Khan said, adding thatwhile there is a focus on combating drug trafficking, the other side of the equation is demand.

While efforts to stem trafficking are increasing, consumption is also increasing, such as in the United States of America where consumption of opiates is expected to rise by three to four per-cent this year.

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