Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Drug council calls for Jamaicans to reduce substance use during COVID

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2020 | 1:42 PM
Executive Director of the National Council on Drug Abuse, Michael Tucker - File photo

The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) is calling for Jamaicans to reduce their use of substances that may be harmful to their health as the country tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and minimise exposure.

The council argues that it should be recognised that substance use, particularly habitual smoking and vaping as well as excessive alcohol consumption can result in unfavourable outcomes.

The body’s executive director Michael Tucker explained that though the new disease is not yet fully understood, it is known that compromised lung function or lung disease related to smoking history such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease puts people at risk for COVID-19 complications.

It was pointed that international experts such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse have posited that there is a need to be alert to the likelihood that the disease could hit some populations with substance use disorders particularly hard.

According to the NCDA, given that it attacks the lungs, the coronavirus could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke tobacco or cannabis (ganja) or who vape.

“Excessive alcohol use weakens the immune system so we need to be cognisant of that and lower intake at this time in order to keep our bodies as healthy as they can possibly be,” said Tucker in a statement.

“At a time when people are stressed, isolated and fearful of their future, there is increased likelihood that alcohol consumption and smoking will be stress-relieving solutions. We are making an urgent plea for people to recognise that this could actually put them at greater risk for harm with this new disease,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tucker noted that the NCDA, like other service providers around the world, has had to respond to COVID-19 with a revised approach to interventions such as counselling.

“We are now conducting tele-counselling throughout our island-wide network. We have also had to incorporate messaging about substance use and COVID-19 in order to get people to pay keen attention to this, particularly with the increased popularity of vaping among our youth, so we are using social media channels to achieve this. The old adage that prevention is better than cure is applicable with this pandemic and we urge the public to adhere to measures outlined by the Government of Jamaica that are seeking to keep us all safe and healthy.”

How to contact NCDA

876-926-9002-4 or  help line on 876-564-HELP (4357).

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.