Student drug use survey next month

A survey of drug use by students in Cayman’s schools will begin next month.

The National Drug Council survey, the sixth since 1998, will track the use of alcohol and drugs by high school and middle school students in the Cayman Islands.

The council is looking for volunteers to help carry out the survey of 12 to 19 year olds, which it hopes will help develop evidence-based policies and programmes geared toward the needs of the youth of Cayman and to continue to strengthen prevention programmes and policies.

The Cayman Islands Student Drug Use Survey 2012 will track the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use, the rise of drug abuse, and the distribution of use across all geographic areas of Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

“Having reliable and consistent data allows the development of programming in line with the community’s needs. Our ongoing monitoring through this survey provides our stakeholders with information that would not otherwise be available as we seek to reduce the negative impacts of alcohol and other drugs,” said Joan West-Dacres, executive director of the National Drug Council of the Cayman Islands.

“We are pleased that so many organisations have been utilising the data to help strengthen their programming,” Ms West-Dacres said.

She said the information gathered in the survey was “valuable to the country, communities, and schools in targeting prevention initiatives”.

“In addition, the survey collects information about school climate, safety, and important contributing factors to youth risk behaviours that can impede learning,” she said.

The last survey of this kind, done in 2010, showed binge drinking among teens was on the increase in Cayman. In 1998, 7.2 per cent reported binge drinking in the past month, compared with 32.1 per cent in 2010.

It also showed alcohol was the most commonly used substance among schoolchildren, with more than half of those who admitted taking any kind of substance saying they had consumed alcohol. The second most commonly used substance was tobacco, which was smoked by 14 per cent of those who had tried a substance, and ganja, which 13 per cent of respondents admitted consuming. Other drugs were used by 3 per cent or less of students.

Other than ganja, the most popular drugs used was inhalants, donkey weed (a locally grown weed) and tranquillisers.

The National Drug Council is appealing for 80 volunteers to work as fieldwork assistants in the survey.

Volunteers would be required to work for about one and a half hours during the weeks of 23 April to 4 May during which the survey will be administered to students in their classrooms. There will be two sessions – morning and afternoon.

Anyone who wants to volunteer should call 949-9000.