Persons with disabilities at high risk of substance abuse -National Council for Persons with Disabilities

Persons with disabilities at high risk of substance abuse -National Council for Persons with Disabilities

By Mansi Chand
Thursday 16/05/2024

Persons living with disabilities can be at a high risk of substance abuse because of the challenges they face, for instance it can be a coping mechanism for them because of challenges such as anxiety.

National Council for Persons with Disabilities Executive Director, Lemeki Cagialau highlighted this during the Responding To Illicit Drugs National Panel Discussion at the Fiji National University Campus in Nasinu.

The Executive Director says with a point of view of the disability sector they need to keep in mind the vulnerabilities and challenges persons with disabilities face as it can be a huge risk and therefore they have to be proactive.

Cagialau says as a disability sector their job is to raise more awareness as information is vital and it should go down to the communities since it is everyone’s job to combat this challenge.

He says to do this they need to train communities so that with the right information communities will know to assist and encourage drug users not to take drugs.

He says on the other hand they should have proper support as urban sectors have more available mechanisms of support, however rural communities should also have it.

Cagialau says they should have accessibility in terms of health care and other services provided by the government because sometimes due to disability they can’t access services provided by the government. He further says they are thankful to CSOs and NGOs for the work they are doing in providing full information to communities to refrain from such activities.

The Executive Director says vulnerabilities such as poverty, unemployment and other issues can attract an individual towards drugs.

He says there is an organization within the disability sector which is called the Psychiatric Survival Association to assist those who have survived psycho-socio disabilities and discuss how to reach out to communities.

Cagialau says that there should be a very clear referral pathway so that communities know what are some signs and symptoms so that people in the community can understand when a person is taking drugs.

Click here for more stories from the Talanoa Session on Illicit Drugs and Substance Use Disorders in Fiji

Click here for stories on the Drugs Situation in Fiji

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