Caribbean leaders concerned about substance abuse among youth

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Caribbean leaders concerned about substance abuse among youth

Friday, February 21, 2020

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – Increasing cases of substance abuse among young people is likely to be among matters discussed when Caribbean Community leaders meet in Trinidad for their summit on crime.

Caricom chairman and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley pointed to the use of the recreational drug lean, also known as purple drank, among young people in Barbados.

Lean originated in the United States, and is a concoction of cough syrup, hard candy and soda. It can also cause seizures and addiction.

“This is perhaps one of the worst things that is happening throughout the region. It's one of the negative things that they have taken up from, as we would say, over and away,” she said.

The Barbados Prime Minister also stressed that authorities need to work with parents in the region so they can recognise and address the threats to their children's stability.

Mottley's concerns come as Caricom leaders prepare to meet in Trinidad for a summit on the wave of crime and violence sweeping the region.

She stressed that the problem cannot be solved only through law enforcement, as it is part of “a broader societal problem that requires a societal solution of which the government is only but one of the players”.

As regional leaders consider possible solutions, Mottley pointed to the example of Bermuda, which adopted a home-grown, multi-sectoral approach to reducing criminal activity among young people.

“It's one that picks up those children who are being put out of school at 16 instead of leaving them on the street; one that looks at those families who are falling through the cracks; one that teaches our children how to be able to resolve conflict without wanting to resort to violence to be able to do so,” she said.

“But it is only going to happen when we do this according to scale. In order to transform the society, you need scale. And to that extent therefore, what the prime ministers and heads of government have agreed is that we need to bring everybody together; set a common mission and once we set that common mission, then each work their part to pursue and achieve that mission.”

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