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Survey shows shocking extent of alcohol and drug use in Bermuda

A new survey shows one-third of people questioned know family or friends who take illegal drugs.

More than one-third of people questioned in a national survey said they had either family or friends who take illegal drugs and two thirds said they had family or friends who get drunk, findings released this afternoon show.The Department for National Drug Control (DNDC) in collaboration with the Department of Statistics today released the National Drug Consumption Survey, 2009, which gives data on the nature and magnitude of use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in society. It was conducted in November among 1,283 people between the ages of 16 and 65.Findings show:* Alcohol, tobacco (cigarettes), and marijuana are the most commonly used drugs among the adult population in Bermuda. More than half (61.2 percent) of respondents indicated they have friends and family members who get drunk.* Almost two in five respondents said they have friends and family members who take illegal drugs; while 13.3 percent of respondents would try an illegal drug if they were given the chance.* Slightly more than half of all respondents (53 percent) said it would be easy to get access to marijuana, and 30.2 percent thought that it would be easy to get access to cocaine.* The public viewed smoking cigarettes (13.1 percent) and marijuana (23.3 percent) sometimes as no or low risk to the individual. “These numbers are alarming as a perception of low to no risk often translates to increased use,” a DNDC spokesman said.The spokesman added: “The findings demonstrate significant gender differences in the prevalence of alcohol, tobacco (cigarettes) and marijuana use. In general, males reported higher prevalence of use rates than women.“The observed differences in prevalence of use according to age was most apparent with the use of marijuana. Respondents aged between 20 and 29 reported higher lifetime, annual, and current use than other age groups.“Respondents who were under 20-years-old reported current use that was higher than the overall national average (7.5 percent) while those in the 20 to 29 age group reported current use that was over two times the overall national average (17.2 percent). Those respondents under 20-years-old also reported current use that was above the overall national average (11.3 percent).“The survey data also provides insight into the circumstances and perceived harmfulness of using alcohol, tobacco (cigarettes), and other drugs. Given that 13.3 percent of respondents indicated they would try an illegal drug if given the opportunity, the findings of this survey may serve as the basis to refining prevention programs and treatment interventions to better meet the needs of specific sub-groups in this community.“The DNDC believes that it is possible for Bermuda to contain and subsequently reduce the demand for alcohol and other drugs. However, a total community effort and nothing less is required.“Prevention of drug use in Bermuda must focus intensively, but equally on the problem of demand and supply. The cultural forces that encourage and perpetuate drug use in our society must be eliminated. We must recognize that drugs have become a deeply ingrained part of our daily life and that the reduction in demand and supply cannot occur unless social attitudes toward drug use change.“Changing social attitudes toward drugs is a difficult undertaking, but not an impossible one. All segments of the community must become involved in the effort with each individual embracing the motto: - Stand Up….Your Life, Your Community, No Place for Drugs.”