Dominica’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. David Johnson is calling for more comprehensive programs which will enhance substance abuse treatment services in Dominica.
Speaking at the opening of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Workshop on Wednesday morning, Johnson indicated that substance abuse is having a major effect on Dominica and is destroying individuals, communities, societies and families.
He noted that studies have shown that there is at present, an early initiation of alcohol consumption among students.
“Students are practicing behaviors which are putting them at risk of developing mental illness. A significant number of students are presented with suicidal faults and attempted suicide,” he stated. “These issues underscore the need for development of policies and implementation of joint programs involving the ministries of health, education, the judicial system, other relevant government sectors, civil society, parents, churches for supporting the development of healthy behaviors by our students.”
Johnson noted further that there is an obligation to strengthen the coping mechanisms of the younger generation and protect them from the use of alcohol and substance abuse.
“There is a need to develop more comprehensive policies and programs for combatting the use of illicit substances and the abuse of alcohol which are destroying our nation,” he noted. “We must strengthen our prevention and health care promotion strategies while at the same time develop our alcohol and substance abuse treatment services.”
He pointed out that a fairly good referral system from the criminal justice system to the treatment services is already in place. However, he said there may be a need to strengthen the legislative framework to ensure that there is compulsive treatment for alcohol and substance abuse as well as strengthening treatment programs in the prisons. Johnson stated further that treatment programs in the communities are therefore essential in addressing the problems related to substance abuse and mental disorder.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Julius Timothy, stated that the risk of providing cure for patients with mental illness is rising.
“Very little is in place to manage persons with a problem. More reduction has to be our main focus, treatment facilities are very much needed, community based programs must be developed, more persons have to be trained to manage up to date programs in the prisons, schools, health facilities and other organizations, let us increase spending in the area of mental health,” he said.