By MATT MAURA
Bahamas Information Services
WASHINGTON, D.C. USA (BIS) April 26, 2017 – The Government of the United States of America looks forward to a “continued successful bilateral partnership” with the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, particularly in the war on the world drug problem, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Internal Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Mr. Luis E. Arreaga, said Wednesday.
Addressing Bahamian delegates attending the 61st Regular Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) during a Bilateral Meeting held in the General Services Building of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States in Washington, Mr. Arreaga also congratulated The Bahamas on ascending to the Chair of CICAD and for chairing what he termed a successful 61st CICAD Regular Session.
Mr. Arreaga said the United States/Bahamas partnership has served both countries well over the years and that his country looks forward to continuing that partnership.
He noted the 61st Regular Session of CICAD allowed United States officials the opportunity to welcome in the new leadership of the CICAD Executive Secretariat. Ambassador Adam Namm was appointed CICAD Executive Secretary in December, 2016, after serving for 30 years at the U.S. State Department. The 61st Regular Session was Ambassador Namm’s inaugural Session as CICAD Executive Secretary.
Mr. Arreaga said the Session also provided U.S. officials with the opportunity to share its vision for implementation of the UNGASS Document and to alert the Hemisphere of the world opioids crisis.
According to global statistics, 15million people worldwide are misusing opioids. More than five million (5.1 million) are in the United States of America.
Global health officials further say that young adults are one of the fastest growing age groups misusing prescription opioids and that males are significantly at greater risk of substance dependence than females.
Abusing prescription opioid pain relievers is a major problem among young people, and a global study shows users are combining those drugs with other substances. Teens who mix prescription opioids with other drugs are four times as likely as non-users to report frequently getting drunk and are eight times as likely to be marijuana users. Twenty-four percent of teens who take prescription opioids non-medically say they usually or always combine it with marijuana.
Opioids are dangerous when taken other than as prescribed, and combining with other drugs compounds the risks. The new research findings highlight the importance of addressing combined drug use in interventions to prevent substance abuse in young people.
Mr. Arreaga also shared his government’s view on the establishment of Drug Treatment Courts as an alternative to incarceration for young drug users/abusers, adding that the United States was “prepared to support the establishment of Drug Treatment Courts – especially for young people.”
Dr. Bridgette Rolle, Head-of-Delegation, Bahamas, informed Mr. Arreaga that The Bahamas was in the process of establishing Drug Treatment Courts and Community Youth Centres as alternatives to incarceration for young drug users/abusers. Dr. Rolle also addressed a number of other areas during her response.
Just last year during the 60th CICAD Regular Session held in Nassau, Minister of National Security the Hon. Dr. Bernard J. Nottage announced that The Bahamas was in the “critical stages” of establishing Drug Treatment Courts as alternatives to incarceration for drug-dependent offenders through treatment and rehabilitation.
Dr. Nottage said Bahamian officials had also embarked upon a series of other initiatives focused on at-risk youth including the establishment of Community Youth Centres that will provide healthy alternative services and programmes.
“Participating youth will receive training in hospitality, self-esteem building, motivational and personal development,” Dr.Nottage said. “These centres will be spaces where youth can have positive interactions and hopefully be dissuaded from using illicit drugs, joining gangs, or engaging in conflict with the law.”
Dr. Rolle; Sergeant David Ramsey, Supply Reduction Officer, National Anti-Drug Secretariat, Ministry of National Security; Rochelle Basden, Deputy-Director, Psychological Services, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, and Lowena West, Representing Civil Society Bahamas, also made interventions during the Bilateral Meeting. Carla Johnson, Executive Officer, National Anti-Drug Secretariat, Ministry of National Security, also participated in the Bilateral along with Teddi Shihadeh, U.S. State Department.
Bahamian and United States officials engaged in a Bilateral Meeting early Wednesday morning ahead of the start of the final day of the 61st Regular Session of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) held April 24-26 at the General Services Building of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS). Pictured (from left) are: Rochelle Basden, Deputy Director, Psychological Services, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre; Sergeant David Ramsey, Supply Reduction Officer, National Anti-Drug Secretariat, Ministry of National Security; Lowena West, Civil Society Bahamas; Luis Arreaga, U.S. State Department; Dr. Bridgette Rolle, Bahamas Head-of-Delegation; Teddi Shihadeh, U.S. State Department; and Carla Johnson, Executive Officer, National Anti-Drug Secretariat, Ministry of National Security. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)