NASSAU, The Bahamas — Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville said there are many cases of drug addiction in The Bahamas.
“Drug addiction is very complicated. You may be speaking about a particular drug, but the person in front of you most of the times are poly drug users, which means they are using many different substances,” Dr. Darville said during the Opening of the 2nd Annual Caribbean Forum on Drug Use Prevention at SuperClubs Breezes, Monday, July 31, 2023.
He also noted that drug addiction has a direct link to mental illness.
Dr. Darville explained that a lot of mentally ill people use legal drugs to try to self-medicate, particularly those with clinical depression and some of the major psychiatric illnesses.
He said all the English-speaking countries in the Caribbean have been mandated by the World Health Assembly to put in place new mental health legislation, which revolves around dealing with drug addiction.
“I am so pleased that The Bahamas is way ahead. We have already passed the New Mental Health Act. This Act is coming into force where we are going to give those individuals who suffer from mental illness the kind of support they truly deserve.”
The Health Minister said very soon programs will be implemented to curb instances of mentally ill people roaming neighbourhoods unkempt and uncontrolled.
He said, “A lot of us think it’s drug addiction. Some of these individuals are drug addicts, but the drug addiction component is secondary to the mental illness.”
Youth from 13 Caribbean countries are participating in the week-long forum which aims to give young people a platform to develop effective and innovative youth-led drug prevention action plans for implementation in their communities across the Caribbean Region.
Officials of the Bahamas National Drug Council, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States, the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program and the U.S. Government facilitate the forum.
Ronald Haynes, Country Attaché, Head of DEA at the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas explained that pills and drugs laced with fentanyl killed over 100,000 people last year in the U.S. alone.
Mr. Haynes said those trends will continue and that is why it is so important for the participants to engage with each other and be creative in coming up initiatives to reach other young people in the fight against drug abuse.