#Jamaica, November 14, 2017 – Kingston – The partnership between the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III and the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), through the Specialised Substance Misuse Treatment Programme, has served to improve drug treatment access for vulnerable youth. Through the collaboration, youngsters in communities targeted by the CSJP III are recommended to the NCDA for treatment if they have been flagged for substance misuse during assessment.
Substance Abuse Officer, NCDA, Kingston, Denise Chin, says a key strength of the programme is its ability to reach persons who would not otherwise access treatment.
“It offers a very structured way for participants to receive help and access to treatment facilities and options that they wouldn’t otherwise reach out for… so this is a good access to primary care,” she notes.
Ms. Chin, who was addressing a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, said the benefits of the programme extend even to family members, contributing to family and community cohesiveness and leading to others following the example of the participants in seeking treatment.
“Most times in assessment when asked why they use drugs, such as marijuana, youngsters would say it feels good. So there is a trend of a lack of coping skills. In the programme, there are clear skills that you have to be taught to cope with stress and to be considered functional,” she explained.
These include anger management, conflict resolution, stress management and refusal skills, which contribute to better stress management to effectively handle the workplace and make good life choices.
“The process of reintegrating and re-socialising them into society is a stepping stone for them, as they are motivated by the possibility of getting a negative drug test,” Ms. Chin said.
Substance Abuse Officer at the NCDA, Suzanne Brown, said clients are put through a screening and assessment process upon entering the programme, adding that most clients are usually at a pre-contemplation stage, where they see nothing wrong with their drug misuse behaviour.
“That would mean that to pull them from that stage to now starting to contemplate change, we would now go into more drug education sessions, doing functional analysis, the internal and external triggers, understanding the behaviour itself – when it is done, how and with whom – and look at the short-term personal benefits versus the long-term consequences of continued drug use for them,” she added.
“We look at their happiness scale in terms of the different aspects of their lives – their home and school – and how they are functioning overall,” Ms. Brown said.
She said that in treatment planning, the programme examines the client’s support system, such as their family, followed by exploring strategies with the client to manage environmental, social and emotional triggers. Group sessions would also include life-skill-building presentations and workshops. More than 150 individuals were referred to the NCDA for treatment following risk assessments.
The NCDA conducted 541 individual sessions and 80 group sessions over a 12-month period starting July 2016. Additional workshops were done in communities and schools to sensitise children and students about marijuana use and to train community volunteers to identify persons in need of treatment. Sixty-one per cent of the participants were compliant with the sessions and 10.1 per cent tested negative after completion of the treatment programme.
Ms. Brown explained that even though some of the clients may not be negative at the end of the programme, they would have made significant progress.
“What you will find is that a lot of the times, some are chain-smokers, and throughout the programme, you will notice significant reduction in usage,” she said.
“Persons probably started with back-to-back smoking, and as the session progressed… you will notice that while they have not totally stopped using, they have been able to reduce the number of (marijuana cigarettes) per day,” she added.
Ms. Chin, meanwhile, is hopeful that the collaboration with the CSJP III will continue, as it has been effective in impacting the lives of youth.
“It’s an ongoing partnership and another way for persons in the community to access our services, so we see that as a benefit. Some persons might not have seen that they have a problem or would be too timid or afraid to get help. So, it is good that the CSJP streamlines these persons who really need it,” she said.
The Specialised Substance Misuse Treatment Programme was formed out of a realisation that drug use, particularly abuse of marijuana, has prevented a number of CSJP recipients from accessing vocational skills training and employment offerings.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding with the NCDA, signed in 2016, persons flagged for drug use through the CSJP’s Community Case Management programme are referred to the NCDA for the treatment course before they transition into the vocational, job-training or job-placement features of the CSJP.
By: Denise Dennis (JIS)