Pubdate: Mon, 27 Aug 2007
Source: Antigua Sun (Antigua)
Copyright: 2007 SUN Printing & Publishing LTD
Author: Nikisha Smith
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Drug Education)


The Substance Abuse Prevention Division will be expanding its school 
programme this year in order to sustain its efforts to reduce drug 
use in the schools.

"We are changing the programme and adding a new focus because we see 
how drug abuse in schools is negatively affecting our children's 
education," Substance Abuse Officer Norma Jeffrey-Dorset stated.

She said they have observed that the children using illegal 
substances, especially marijuana, have been getting younger and younger.

So, instead of providing sessions for one term in the selected 
schools, the officers will be targeting a school for the entire 
school year. Additionally, the department will be expanding the 
programme to outside school hours and extend it to the community.

"If the school has a parent/teachers meeting we will be there. We 
will be at every activity the school is having and every other 
activity the community is having if we feel we can make a 
difference," Jeffrey-Dorset.

The officer said that research has shown that for prevention efforts 
to be successful it has to be maintained and that is their main focus 
right now. "We are not just to do something and leave it," she said.

The revamped programme will come on stream in September. As of last 
year, the programme had about nine junior secondary and primary 
schools participating. Jeffrey-Dorset said that number will be 
increased this year as well. This particular programme was started in 2004.

In order to aid this expanding effort, the department has three newly 
appointed drug educators, people who have been in the department for 
a while and training to serve in this role.

The department has made the decision to zone the educators so that 
they can cover as much areas as possible. The plans in this direction 
have not been finalised as yet.

Each educator will be assigned a drug prevention aid to help with his 
or her duties. The department currently has one drug prevention aid 
and the department is expecting two or three more in the course of the year.

There is also a vacancy for a senior drug education officer. 
Jeffrey-Dorset said that successful applicants must have a degree in 
one of the behavioural sciences and preferably have teaching 
experience. Counselling experience is a must.

For more information call 460-9189.

The substance abuse programme is focussed on skills building. Topics 
covered are drug information and education; feelings (e.g mood 
swings, and disappointment); personal strengths and limitations, 
going to extremes, understanding under achievement; responding to 
authority; family values, personal space and privacy and 
vulnerability to gangs, dealing with others' expectations and substance abuse.
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