Understanding for worries about Saba youth drug use

Dutch State Secretary of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports Martin van Rijn shares the concerns of Members of the Saba Island Council about the use of drugs by the local youth and the lack of rehabilitation possibilities on the island.

Martin van Rijn, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport Photo RCN
Martin van Rijn, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport
Photo RCN

Members of the Island Council sent a letter to Van Rijn and his colleague, State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment Jetta Klijnsma on February 15, 2016, about the high use of illegal drugs among youngsters and the lack of local residential rehabilitation.

Van Rijn responded by letter on April 5, a copy of which he sent to the Dutch Parliament on Monday, April 11. He stated that the drug problem, and especially the use among the youth, was a theme that had his full attention and that he wanted to assist where possible to tackle this issue.

The State Secretary pointed out the importance of prevention and awareness of the use of drugs and alcohol by youngsters, a matter that should also involve the parents and others in their direct vicinity.

Van Rijn has been in contact with the Caribbean Netherlands Foundation for Addiction and Psychiatry SVP-CN which has developed a prevention programme for primary and secondary schools. Specific campaigns regarding the use of alcohol and drugs are already taking place in Bonaire and St. Eustatius, paid for by the local governments.

“The campaigns are supported by folders and educational material in four languages. The material has already been developed and could be made available for Saba. SVP-CN would gladly discuss this possibility with Saba,” stated Van Rijn.

The State Secretary explained that SVP-CN aimed to offer the assistance trajectories where possible in an ambulant format, on the island itself and in familiar surroundings of the client. However, in some cases this is insufficient and assistance will have to be sought elsewhere.

The Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS has requested SVP-CN to set up a treatment facility for children and youngsters in Bonaire. It concerns 16 places for child and youth psychiatry, addiction care and young victims of domestic violence and abuse.

The facility in Bonaire should be operational by September 2017, and will have space for youngsters from Saba. For very specific cases of addiction, there are possibilities at the Turning Point in St. Maarten and the Novadic-Kentron addiction clinic in the Netherlands.

Van Rijn announced in his letter that the capacity of nursing specialists in the area of mental health care GGZ in Saba would be doubled from one to two persons in 2017. In concluding, he expressed his appreciation for the developments and ambitions in Saba to realise improvements for the island.

The Daily Herald.

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