Bermuda’s “primary source of statistical information” on the misuse and abuse of illegal drugs and alcohol shows that “cannabis and alcohol remain the most widely used drugs on the Island”.
And while “trends in cannabis use appear to be more stable in the general population”, it continues to be the number one illegal drug of choice in Bermuda.
According to the Department of National Drug Control’s (DNDC) 2017 BerDIN Report, “cannabis use increased slightly over the past four years”.
The report also points up the ongoing link to the use of illegal drug use and crime.
“Poly drug use remains ever present amongst persons involved in the criminal justice system, who report using some combination of crack cocaine, opiates (heroin), and marijuana.
“Understanding what has led to the reductions in tobacco and alcohol use may offer insights in addressing the use of other substances, such as cannabis; although cannabis is often smoked in combination with tobacco. This is likely to have implications for public health policies.
Despite “very little change” in the criminal trials for drug possession, the report said: “The vulnerability of Bermuda to drugs and crime remains a concern,” as the drug market “is still very much active in Bermuda as persons who sought drug treatment, or have been offenders of the law, have reported that their primary drug of choice remains
available and accessible”.
“Sound policy and actions in an area such as drug control are possible only if they are grounded in an understanding of the complex nature of the problems they are addressing. The extent and nature of the drug market and all its ramifications is an important topic for further discussion.”
Drug-related crimes decreased in 2016, but the “demand for drugs remain unchanged”. The report also said: “Significant challenges persist in adequately addressing the needs of substance users, their families, and the community.
“With the enforcement of current legislation still remaining unaddressed and the demand for treatment remaining high, there is a significant gap in the drug control system.
“Law enforcement and the criminal justice system are still, in many ways, not in a position to deal effectively with controlling the drug market.”
The leading cause – “outdated legislation and a lack of enforcement of current laws”, which “have made supply reduction more challenging”.
The Bermuda Police Service saw more seizures caused by fetanyl in 2016, but to date, there is still “no formal reporting system for alerting relevant parties to its presence and availability on the drug market”.
There was “very little evidence of the presence and/or use of other synthetic drugs exists”.
It was also noted that despite the fact that the National Drug Strategy “has as one of its tenets, the provision of
diversified approaches to demand reduction”, waiting lists still existed in 2016 for residential treatment services.
“Continued austerity measures put in place by the Government have resulted in significant staffing reductions and a decrease in service provision by agencies in the treatment network.
Substance abuse treatment “remains the largest component of drug control expenditure” in Bermuda.
“The DNDC’s treatment programmes saw a slight drop while grant-funded agencies saw level funding in 2016. Other treatment agencies or programmes saw slight decreases in funding while the DNDC’s Treatment Unit saw a marginal increase in FY2016/2017.
The year also “saw the continued existence of the treatment gap for persons seeking substance abuse assessment”.
Assessments by the Bermuda Assessment and Referral Centre (BARC) continue to show that “opiates, cocaine, and alcohol are the primary substances of choice amongst persons seeking treatment services in 2016”.
“Many of these persons have met the clinical criteria for abuse of or dependence on such substances (problems related to their use), more so than persons assessed in 2015.
“Reports indicate that more persons new to drug treatment were more likely to meet the criteria for abuse of alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine; while persons that have been in treatment sometime prior were more likely to be dependent on opiates (heroin), alcohol, and cocaine.
“The majority of persons referred for substance abuse treatment between 2015 and 2016 were repeat cases. When it came to the level of severity of substance abuse or dependence, most persons assessed for treatment services were between a low to intermediate level of severity.
The report said: “While a person may go through assessment he/she may not follow through with the recommended level of care, leaving a ‘treatment gap’ between the persons needing and receiving treatment.
“An understanding and knowledge of substance users and abusers who are not in care is limited. More information is required on how to access this specific population to determine its need.”
The Mental Health Treatment Court, run by the Department of Court Services, “continues to be challenged with the provision of drug treatment services for dual-diagnosed clients”.
The report stressed that Bermuda still “lacks an inpatient medically-monitored drug treatment facility, which makes the placement of dual-diagnosed clients even more difficult”.
The 2017 Annual BerDIN Report marks the sixth year consecutive year in which “over 20 sources of drug-related information was provided to inform the drug situation in Bermuda”.
The year 2017 also marked the end of the National Drug Control Master Plan and Action Plan 2013-2017 to reduce and prevent the harms associated with the misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol.
The report also stated: “Supply reduction agencies continue to interdict drugs both overseas and at the border, with the objective of prosecuting and seizing drugs and assets associated with the illicit drug trade.
“Some of the gaps in data that were identified in 2016 remain, these include, but are not limited to, the farming of drug crops; the procurement of precursor chemicals and specialist equipment; trafficking activities and routes; concealment methods; the adulteration steps; and the distribution from wholesale all the way down to the
retain level and, finally, consumption.”
But this report “aims to improve the understanding of the drug situation in Bermuda and to provide for debate in the coming years”.