Samoa takes a leap in war against drugs

Samoa is in a better position to advance the war on illegal drugs.

It follows the graduation of 26 participants from various government agencies and civil society organizations who have completed the Universal Treatment Curricula Training for Courses 1 and 2 from the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme.

Held at the Ministry of Health, the training was sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs with assistance from the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Director General of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri said illegal drugs have a big impact on health if they are ignored.

“The problems of drugs (illegal) is a global disaster and Samoa is no exception. The fact that it comes from a recreational aspect but negatively impacts health leading to overdose and loss of life,” he said

“Different illegal drugs have different effects on people and these effects are influenced by many factors." 

“Drug abuse affects people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic  statuses. Whatever the reason a person starts taking drugs, tolerance and dependency develop quickly, before the user even realizes the pattern of addiction taking hold. When tolerance becomes full-blown addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop patterns of abuse."

“The diminishing effects set in after the first time, and the user constantly tries to replicate the first high he or she gets from the drug by taking increasing amounts. This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to overdose.”

Learning to recognise the physical or behavioral signs of drug abuse can help prevent the problem.

“This is the first training toward dealing with drug addiction, rehabilitation and treatment for those who are being affected,” said Leuasa.

“Treatment needs to be contextualized to include the social elements, i.e.; family, Christian beliefs and values, connections and support of the community and the church."

“Counseling in the Samoan context extends beyond the office and one to one session; it encompasses the family, community and the church. It will be very difficult to exclude these stakeholders if the programme was to be successful."

“Samoa’s national borders needed to be protected from drug smuggling. How can that happen, officers should learn how to track or identify that a person was smuggling hard stuff into or outside of Samoa."

“Professional handling of the victims is paramount. The counselors should approach these cases in a professional manner."

“I am glad that we are trained by the best, the USA is leading the WAR ON DRUGS and they have the latest research, technology, experience and know how.  Those who have been trained should now have the knowledge, skills and the courage to be brave enough to train others on how to deal with people with drug addiction."

“You are now registered and qualified members of our Special Team to deal with the War on Drugs.”

For some medical and addiction professionals, this training was the first step to becoming a fully credentialed addiction treatment professional. 

The training was brought forth by the hard work and initiative of Dr. Rachael Dempsey and her N.G.O. Soifua Manuia, which tackles methamphetamine addiction in Samoa. 

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