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Sep 3, 2014

Drug Use Up Among Belize City High School Students

A recent survey involving a sample of four hundred and fifty high school students is showing an alarming use of drugs. The survey was carried out by the National Drug Abuse Control Council and the University of Belize. it shows that students are consuming serious amounts of alcohol, marijuana and in some cases cocaine. While the use of drugs is prevalent among the teenagers between fourteen and sixteen years, the survey says that children as young as ten years are experimenting with drugs. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Drug use among young people in Belize is an issue of grave concern since its prevalence, particularly with high school students in Belize City, is relatively high.  A recent study shows that a majority of teenagers, mostly between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, have experimented with illegal substances.  These include marijuana and crack cocaine, while others are equally introduced to alcohol and tobacco consumption around the same age.


Jean Briceno-Perriott, Psychologist/Researcher

Jean Briceno-Perriott

“This study was done with third year high school students, so for that particular sample of the study three-quarters of them admitted to experimenting with alcohol.  Why we say experimenting is because we asked them to report lifetime, which meant having used it once.  We asked them to report their use twelve months before the questionnaire was completed and thirty days before the questionnaire was completed and we saw that the first report for lifetime was three-quarters of them; about seventy-six point four percent.”


Simply put, three out of every four teenagers from all students who participated in the survey admit to having tried alcohol at least once.  According to a study published in the Journal of School Health, the theory of a “gateway drug” is not associated with marijuana, but rather one of the most damaging and socially accepted drug in the world, alcohol.


Fermin Olivera

Fermin Olivera, U.B. Lecturer

“What I notice here is that the age tends to be in the early teens maybe fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, while in Central America I have seen figures or studies, comparative work that suggests that they start much earlier, as young as nine, ten, eleven.  For marijuana specifically, and unfortunately our study didn’t flag that but I’m sure it’s something we can present afterwards, just for comparison purposes.  In Central America we have seen that young people take marijuana at a much older age.”


In contrast, marijuana is being consumed at a younger age in Belize.  Curiously, the results of the study indicate that females are more likely to snort cocaine than men.  It also shows that there is little difference between males and females as it pertains to drug use.


Jean Briceno-Perriott

“Is there a difference between females and males in doing drugs?  Well, we found that with this particular sample there is really no difference except for four.  In four of them we found that males were more likely to do these particular three drugs out of the four, which was tobacco and we measure that in the form of cigarette smoking, use of marijuana and crack.  Interestingly, females were more likely to do inhalants.  We found that sixteen-point-one percent of that particular sample reported having used once in a lifetime.”


While the statistics show that drug use among youths is found frequently, the effects are far-reaching, beginning first with a drop in academic performance.


Fermin Olivera

“What it translates to, as it relates to the social impact, the implications.  Well, for one we believe that the more students use or abuse drugs and alcohol and licit or illicit drugs, their performance in school will probably be affected negatively; meaning that they would drop out of school.  They won’t perform as good and of course there are other possible implications, depression, maybe aspects of self-esteem, maybe anger, maybe violence and of course accidents.  All these things can be as a consequence of high use of drugs and alcohol within, you know, by young people.”


Of equal interest is that contrary to popular opinion, teenagers who live in extended-family households are more likely to experiment with crack, as opposed to those from single-parent homes.


Jean Briceno-Perriott

“In most studies we find that family origin does have an impact.  Almost we are saying all the time that oh it’s single-parent families and negative connotation, but in this study what we’ve found is that it wasn’t the single-parent family.  More than half of the students lived in single-parent families, by the way, you know, from this particular sample.  What we found is that it was the extended family or the blended family that is a predictor for crack use for the young males.”


Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Drug Use Up Among Belize City High School Students”

  1. steven says:

    Why is this even news. The National Drug Abuse Council is so out of date. In any high school in Belize, you can get marijuana, coke, extasy, you name it. We have several students/drug deaers who control the school. After all have you stopped to realize how much lunch money is spent on drugs and the parents have no idea. Teachers, Security get paid to look the other way. Money talks and our teens spend their high school days HIGH!!!

  2. Phillipa says:

    I agree with you steven

  3. Wren says:


  4. Dorla says:

    Hi what can I do with my son, I need help to assist my son in getting treatment he is consuming Marijuana and I am really concerned. What can I do? I am a single mom christian and in need of help.
    please answer me.

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