By Betty Hunte
I need to reiterate upfront that the National Council on Substance Abuse supports the measures put in place to ban the sale of alcohol during this time, and we also understand the views of several persons against this decision.
The whole issue of alcohol is steeped in tradition in Barbados- it is widely accepted. What perhaps is not so well accepted is when an individual’s use of alcohol so impacts that the individual must seek help and refuses to do so.
We know that all governments must insist on measures to minimize the strain on the health care system during this period.
I don’t think we sometimes see how a breakdown in one part of the system causes sometimes undue pressure on another: in this instance- problematic drinking may lead to contact with the criminal justice system (police/ courts/ prisons) and/or the public health system and this can be as a result not only of going to the rum-shop and getting drunk but can be caused by the indiscriminate use of alcohol in the home.
We have also heard concerns expressed relative to increased risk to vulnerable persons who must remain indoors during this period, an if you reside with someone whose judgment is even more impaired with the use of alcohol, then that risk is multiplied many times.
What we at the NCSA remain concerned about is the interruption of the provision of access to rehabilitative spaces- something which is of critical importance to persons who are currently in counselling or who during this period, have come to a place where they want to access these kinds of support services.
We continue to encourage family members or friends of persons who may be experiencing symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol or any other mind-altering substance, to call us at the NCSA, call the Psychiatric Hospital, the nearest polyclinic, your primary care provider to get assistance for that loved one.
The NCSA encourages you to stay safe and stay the distance, if not for yourself, for the person you care most about.
Think before you drink!