A proposed Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Act is being proposed by the Government, with a policy to manage and facilitate the framework for such a system currently being drafted by the Ministry of the People and Social Development, Minister in that Ministry, Dr Lincoln Douglas revealed yesterday.
He was delivering the feature address at the Caribbean Regional Certification Mechanism Meeting for the Training and Certification Programme (PROCCER) for drug prevention and treatment service providers at Kapok Hotel, St Clair.
Douglas said such a policy would serve as a management and quality assurance tool for implementation of effective measures for sustainable rehabilitation and social reintegration of substance abusers.
The meeting is a joint effort between the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the Organisation of American States and the National Drug Council of Trinidad and Tobago (NDC).
The Caribbean PROCCER project is made possible through funding from the US State Department and the Canadian Government.
The proposed legislation comes in light of some startling statistics revealed by Douglas, and National Security Minister Brig John Sandy about youth drug abuse statistics.
"Data from the Trinidad and Tobago Prisons Service reveals that approximately 40 per cent of the male prison population are on drug-related charges, while an additional 20-25 per cent represent substance abusers who have committed various crimes of acquisition," said Sandy.
He added that his Ministry, which has responsibility for the NDC, has introduced various rehabilitation programmes at the Youth Training Facility and the Maximum Security Prisons.
"This will go a long way in helping those who are substance abusers and need rehabilitation and not incarceration, while significantly reducing the number of young people entering the prisons system," he said.
Douglas also quoted Prisons Service statistics regarding the female population.
"Four in ten women reported that drugs were connected in some way to their present or previous offence," he said.
"There are various levels you have to deal with in drug use; intervention, prevention and treatment (and) an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," he added.