Judith Burgess Executive Director of PRIDE spoke to us on the absolute importance of drug prevention and the role that PRIDE plays in empowering youth and adults in support of healthy lifestyles in our community

In 2003, The National Drug Commission sponsored the Communities that Care Youth Survey of students from Middle School (M2) to High School (S4). This survey was designed to address risk and protective factors based on the work of Dr. J. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard F. Catalano.  Risk factors are conditions that increase the likelihood of youth becoming engaged in anti-social behaviour such as drug use.  Conversely, protective factors are conditions that aid in reducing the impact of the risks.  Protective factors identified through research include strong bonding to family, school, community and peers. This information is vital to prevention programming not only for PRIDE but for the entire community.  The survey also included information about the drug use of our students.  One of the results of this survey shows that Bermuda's public and private school students' drug of choice is a legal drug, Alcohol.  In fact school students recorded the highest lifetime prevalence- of -use rates for alcohol.  58% of students surveyed had used alcohol followed by 25 % of students who had used tobacco.  Of the students, who had used alcohol during their youth some where between the ages of 10 ½ years and 18 year


PRIDE's vision has always been drug free youth in our community. During the past 21 years PRIDE has steadfastly brought awareness to the whole idea of prevention. In 1986 when PRIDE started, the focus was on educating parents.  According to the public opinion at that time, Bermuda had no drug problem.  Many of you who are sitting here today may be laboring under the assumption that drugs have not affected you.  Whether no one in your family used, whether your house was never broken into or your vehicle stolen, drugs have affected all of us, directly or indirectly.


PRIDE continues to work with Parents to prevent the scourge of drugs from affecting their youth.  In 1993, The National Alcohol and Drug Agency (NADA) then asked PRIDE to manage the Youth to Youth program.


PRIDE impacts more that 400 students annually and disseminates information education and awareness to more than 10,000 youth and adults at a cost of approximately $1,500 for prevention per participant if we only serviced those impacted, and a cost of less than $85 per person for those participating in our awareness events.


As a point of comparison, let's look at our correctional institutions which may involve intervention and or treatment. There are currently more than 250 individuals incarcerated in our correctional facilities.  More than 60% of these persons have tested positive for drugs.  The cost to provide for one inmate is more than $45,000 annually.  You do the Math.  Are you affected now, who pays the taxes? As my grandmother would say 'An ounce of prevention is worth more that a pound of cure'. With inflation, I am sure it is a whole lot more than a pound for the cure.


Prevention works and PRIDE will continue to incorporate prevention strategies as offered through leading drug prevention organisations such as CSAP (Centre for Substance Abuse Prevention), SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services) and CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America).


PRIDE believes that the organization alone cannot solve the drug problem, but together with schools, government, churches and especially the family unit, we can make a difference in combating the attacks of the drug scourge.


I willleave you with this. Margaret Meade once said, "never doubt that a small group of people can change the world; in fact, it is the only thing that has."  During the Royal Commission on Drugs in the early 1990's, Dr. Archibald, who chaired the Commission said, 'if any place could solve the drug problem, Bermuda is that place.' Will you help?  Become a part of the solution