Did you know that between that between 2015 through to the end of 2016, more than 12.7 million litres of alcohol and alcoholic beverages were available for local consumption in Bermuda, valued at more than $54.7 million.

Let that marinate and sink in! That was $27.4 million in 2015 and $27.3 million in 2016 swirling around in this tiny island’s economic pool of revenue.

And on top of that there’s roughly $31.9 million in another 4.9 million litres “placed in bonded warehouse upon the importation for future consumption”.

Think about that for a minute! This is a small island isolated in the Atlantic, that imports the bulk of all of its food. And food, unlike alcohol, is not warehoused in bulk to last beyond two weeks; or slightly more.

But there was nearly five million litres of alcohol stored up just in case anything blocked the importation of more alcohol “for future consumption”.

Considering the fact that “man cannot live by bread alone” and he definitely can’t survive off of just plain alcohol either, what does it say about our priorities, as a country, that there’s more rum spirits stocked up on this island than non-perishable edible goods. 

And in a culture that loves to drink deeply entrenched in our psyche, how do you change the mindset on what’s truly valued when it comes down to the value we place on life.

When you consider the sobering fact that 75 percent of all road traffic fatalities on Bermuda’s roads involve the use and abuse of alcohol and/or other drugs, as a country, how do you chart the road ahead to reverse what has tragically evolved way past an ongoing trend?

How do you address it on a national level, on an island where more emphasis is placed on stocking up on millions of litres of alcoholic beverages just in case of an alcohol drought, than the stockpiling of food? 

After all, in the words of a senior Roads Policing Unit officer, there’s no question of whether or not there will be another road traffic fatality – the only question is when.

Sadly during the month of March, Bermuda tragically recorded the first double road traffic fatality in a very long time.

The Department for National Drug Control (DNDC), is currently meeting with a wide cross section of local residents, organizations and focus groups; to generate public input, before producing a Green Paper later this year.

Gauging feedback from Mr and Mrs Joe Public will help set out the direction of policy measures to help decrease the misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs, and facilitate rehabilitation.

That coupled with the constant carnage with that comes with serious injuries, Bermuda Real decided to take a closer look at the DNDC’s most recent data – data compiled each year and published the following year covering a two-year period.

Let’s start with the money trail driven by alcohol, listed in the Imports and Exports section of the 2017 Annual Report of the Bermuda Drug Information Network (BerDIN).

On top of all the other spirits, the report said there’s even more in the form of “wine in containers holding two litres or less and rum and other spirits” that accounted for the bulk of all alcoholic beverages “placed in bonded warehouses in both years under review”.

At the same time, the report said in 2015, 1.1 million litres of “alcohol and alcoholic beverages were exported”,  valued at $3.9 million.

Surprisingly, the report said in 2016, there was a “decrease” in the number of motorists “who were stopped to undertake a breathalyser test when compared to 2015”.

“In 2016, 119 persons were stopped to undertake the breathalyser test as compared to 170 in the previous year.”

But not all of the motorists stopped agreed to take the test. “In fact quite a number of them refused to do so” because under Bermuda law it’s not mandatory, “not even when there has been an accident”.

The BerDIN report also noted that “the year 2015 was the only one in a series of years in which there was an increase in the number of persons who were stopped for such a test”.

The bulk of those stopped were males, 1123 in 2015 and 81 in 2016, as compared to 16 females in 2015 and seven in 2016. But generally “most persons failed the breathalyser test, irrespective of whether they were male or female”.

“Of those who provided a breathalyser sample, 113 out of 139 and 71 out of 109 failed in 2015 and 2016 , respectively (with 22 in 2015 and 16 in 2016 passing the breathalyser test).”

“In instances where there were accidents, the average breath sample readings were “significantly above the legal limit”. And there were accidents where the motorists tested passed the test because they were under the limit.

The legal limit for alcohol in Bermuda is than 80 mg/dl. Within the two-year period covered in the 2017 BerDIN Report, in “the upper end of the range in 2015 is equivalent to as much as over 14 times the legal limit and about four times over in 2016”.

On average, the report said the majority of persons who failed the test “were two to three times above the legal limit”.

“Only 19 percent (26) of those who were tested in 2015 were within the legal limit as compared to 14 percent (12) in 2016.” 

And “there were a few instances where accidents occurred and the corresponding breathalyser readings were as much as three to four times or more above the legal limit”.

In the next segment, we’ll take a look at most recent data on drug related infectious diseases in Bermuda, Emergency Room cases related to drugs, poisoning, and other toxic effects of substances, and similar cases dealt with at Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute.

  • Ceola Wilson – Just Keeping it Real on Bermuda Real