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Survey of Drugs and Alcohol in Our Schools Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 19 September 2013 00:00

The National Drug Abuse Control Council will conduct a survey of approximately three thousand high school and junior college students to gage the level of alcohol, tobacco and drug use in our schools today.
According to Amelio Matura, Schools and Communities Program Unit Coordinator at the National Drug Abuse Control Council, the survey is part of a regional effort to address drug use and abuse by Caribbean adolescents. Matura says the data will be compared to those compiled in 2003 and 2008 to see if intervention strategies implemented in schools have worked. He says based on the results of surveys that are being conducted in other Caribbean countries, Belize will study and adapt intervention strategies that have worked in order to aggressively tackle drug use in our schools.

The Epidemiological High School Drug Prevalence Survey of 2003 had a sample of 1,700 students and almost 27% did not believe that frequent use of alcohol was harmful. 12.8% of those who were drinkers drank more than 10 drinks daily. 22.9% of drinkers were also marijuana smokers. Belize’s sample of the 2008 Global Youth Tobacco Survey included 1,751 students aged 13 to 15 years. That survey showed that 8% of students are cigarette smokers and 1 in 5 use some form of tobacco. It also revealed that 26.6% of students have tried cigarette smoking and a quarter live in homes in which someone smokes. Three quarters of smokers have tried to quit but failed because they did not receive help doing so.

The National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC) and the Ministry of Health are collaborating with the University of the West Indies - Open Campus Belize, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Statistical Institute of Belize and the Inter-American Observatory on Drugs to update the status of alcohol, tobacco and drug use in schools. During the month of September, field workers will conduct the survey in twenty-nine high schools and five junior colleges countrywide. The main instrument is a self-administered questionnaire of 95 questions on illicit and licit drug use as well as knowledge, beliefs and perception of consequence of drug use. The questionnaire is the standardized Questionnaire for Secondary Schools by the Inter-American Uniform Drug Use System. Matura says the data collected from the survey will provide a tool for policy and decision makers at the national level to combat the drug problem in our schools and wider society.