Cayman is facing a surge in alcohol abuse since Hurricane Ivan, says the CEO of the National Drug Council.
People appear to be turning to liquor in a bid to deal with the trauma of the storm, said Catherine Chesnut.
‘A lot of people are drinking and do not even realise they have a problem,’ she said.
Mrs. Chesnut revealed the trend had become apparent from anecdotal information sourced by the drug council, which is responsible for monitoring drug and alcohol abuse in Cayman.
‘We know from anecdotal reports that there is an overwhelming increase in the consumption of alcohol on the island since the storm,’ Mrs. Chesnut said.
‘Many people think they will return to a lifestyle without alcohol when everything goes back to normal but unfortunately it does not work like that; not all of them will be able to.
‘One of the problems is that alcohol is a socially acceptable drug.’
But Mrs. Chesnut said the island would not see the full effects of the alcohol abuse straight away.
‘It can take some time for these problems to manifest themselves,’ she warned.
‘It (alcohol misuse) takes a while to show in terms of non-performance at work, family breakdowns etc.
‘My personal opinion is that there will be big time difference before people seek help.
‘Now, six to nine months after the storm, we are seeing an increase in depression and aggression amongst the people.’
Mrs. Chesnut said she expected problems associated with alcohol abuse to manifest themselves within the next two years.
But she warned that people who need help do not always seek help.
‘The people we see at treatment centres are usually only a fraction of the people who need help,’ she said.
She stressed that it was important that the health services would be able to meet the demands of those seeking assistance when the time came.
In the meantime, the National Drug Council is working with its TIPS programme as a preventive measure to tackle the rising alcohol problem.
The programme educates people who serve alcohol in bars and restaurants to recognise when customers are becoming intoxicated so that they do not risk either their own lives or that of others by driving while drunk.
And the National Drug Council wants the programme to become a requirement for all establishments that sell liquor on the island.
For anyone who needs help with alcohol-related problems there are various programmes, including outpatient counselling and residential treatment, available.
For further confidential information, ring the National Drug Council on 949-9000.