Bermuda’s drug use problem is a major one, and one that is likely to get worse before it gets better without greater efforts, availability and increased funding being directed at treatment of persons burdened by substance abuse disorder.
So asserts Focus Counselling Services executive director Leslie Grant, who noted the Island as having some 5,000 drug addicted persons among its approximately 60,000 residents, but with very few avenues for the long-term treatment and after-care support to effectively mitigate the situation.
“When we look at statistics in Bermuda or, when we look at how things work I Bermuda, we like to say what happens here is 10 percent of what happens in the US,” explained Grant, a former addict himself, who benefitted from such treatment. “So, per capita, research shows that, at minimum , there are 5,000 people here with substance abuse disorder in Bermuda, with a population of around 60,000, which is quite a problem.
“Anecdotally, we see the challenges when we are driving along. “We get hundreds of calls with people seeking help or asking about help or inquiring, so it’s definitely a major problem.
“Many people might just think that we don’t know what to do about it in some cases, but substane abuse disorder is not a moral issue.
“Some people think, ‘They substance abusers could be doing something else.’
“But substance abuse disorder, as described by the American Psychological Association, is an illness. It is a psychological illness, where drug use are symptoms.
“Until substance abuse disorder gets the treatment that it deserves, this situation is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Formerly, headquartered on Union Street in Hamilton, Focus has moved all of its services to Jerry’s House, situatuted on a sprawling, scenic 3.8 acre property on St George’s east coast.
The multi-structure, which is named after Jerry Griffith, who co-founded Focus Couselling Sevices with Sandra Butterfield, has space to house up to 12 persons in long-term residential treatment and sober living environments, while also providing outpatient treatment and an impaired driving programme.
A men’s only facility, Grant is hopeful of being able to expand the organisation to also service females.
“Our aim is, at some point, is to build another facility or another wing so that we can service women in a sober living environment as well,” said Grant, who leads a similar operation to that offered at the Nelson Bascome Centre in Dockyard, but with a key added element.
“Competition may be a matter of perspective. However, Focus Counselling Services is the only facility that provides sober living in Bermuda.
“We provide sober living for those recovering from substance abuse disorder,
“In terms of Men’s Treatment, they do provide residential treatment services and we do also get a small grant for supportive residency from the Department of National Drug Control, which supports our supportive residency programme.
“Clients that complete treatment at the Nelson Bascome Centre the males are able to come and participate in sober living.
“That is after-care and sober living, that supports a person as they reintegrate into society and continue to rebuild their lives.
“Research shows that, with sober living and employment, it brings better outcomes for long term recovery.”
Grant was adamant that Bermuda as a whole needed to suport treatment and recovery for persons suffering from substance abuse disorder, as the knock-on effect is huge.
He invited donations from businesses, as well as the general public to support Focus in its endeavours via its website, www.focus.bm, where persons can visit it’s DONATE page.
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