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National Drug Council equipping professionals with capacity to effectively treat substance use disorders in adolescents

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BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (SKNIS) – Thirty adolescent treatment professionals in St. Kitts and Nevis are this week engaged in a training programme geared towards equipping them with the tools to identify, assess and treat adolescents with substance use disorders.

The Adolescent Drug Treatment Training, which runs from May 15 to 19, is being facilitated by the St. Kitts and Nevis National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention, in collaboration with the Demand Reduction Unit of the InterAmerican Drug Abuse Control Commission within the Organization of American States (OAS).

The week-long training programme forms part of the National Drug Council’s continued efforts in the prevention and abatement of drug misuse and abuse among the nation’s youth.

Addressing the opening ceremony on Monday, May 15, 2023, at the NEMA Conference Room, Ms. Esther Best, speaking on behalf of the Demand Reduction Unit of the InterAmerican Drug Abuse Control Commission, expressed that her organization is pleased to be partnering with St. Kitts and Nevis in the execution of this important programme.

“The Executive Secretariat of CICAD is very committed to helping our member states strengthen the capacity of the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation workforce through ongoing training in the universal prevention, treatment and rehabilitation curriculum. The adolescent treatment curriculum is now a specialized track of the universal treatment curriculum, and we hope that it can make a significant contribution toward preparing the treatment workforce with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden that substance use disorders bring to your population,” said Ms. Best.

Member of the National Council on Drug Abuse Control Commission and Director of the National Counseling Center, Mrs. Michele de la Coudray-Blake in her remarks stressed that the effects of substance use disorders in adolescents are far-reaching, hence the need for this type of training.

She said, “We know that adolescent substance use has a potentially detrimental impact on the developing brain. We know that there is a correlation between adolescent substance use and the potential for delinquency and school dropouts and we know what that could lead to. We understand that adolescence is already a period of risk-taking behavior and for some adolescents substance use is a part of that risk-taking behavior, and we know that there is a link between early substance use and increased mental health problems.”

Mrs. de la Coudray-Blake added, “We know substance use trends in our Federation indicate that first use or initiation could start as early as nine years old and that the substances of choice in adolescents in our Federation are marijuana and alcohol. So, we are today determined to continue to act to reduce the potential adverse effects on this very vulnerable population.”

Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse Prevention Secretariat, Mrs. Karimu Byron Caines outlined how the participants are expected to benefit from this important and timely training.

She said, “Following your sessions this week, you should be able to (i) describe the characteristics of adolescent development across domains and explain why prevention and treatment of substance use is particularly critical during this stage; (ii) explain risks and protective factors in the family and community that should inform treatment planning for adolescents with substance use disorders; (iii) identify changes they can make in their professional practice to integrate trauma-informed care approaches; (iv) demonstrate an understanding of the skills needed for effective screening, assessment and case management, (v) identify areas where they can pursue further training and development.”

Mrs. Byron Caines further urged the participants to take full advantage of the opportunity and urged them to put all that they will learn during this week’s sessions into practice for the betterment of the nation’s youth.

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