News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The annual Bermuda Drug Information Network (BerDIN) Report, which provides data on the extent and pattern of drug use in Bermuda, is available online for the public to review.

The report, produced by the Department of National Drug Control and BerDIN contains information essential for policy-making, allocation of resources, and organisation of drug-related services and programmes.

For policymakers working within the government and in the community, the report’s content is used to inform of the strategies for drug control, especially drug prevention, and treatment responses for drug abuse and the harmful use of alcohol.

Last year, the BerDIN hosted an annual meeting of stakeholders focused on the impact of alcohol on residents and families in Bermuda. Stakeholders in the substance abuse field also discussed the challenges the local network faced during the COVID-19 pandemic’s height.

The 2021 BerDIN Report marks the 11th report produced by BerDIN. The report examines how changing alcohol and drug products and global policies highlight the importance of prevention efforts, as well as and the continued need for enforcement of already established laws.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the global economy, public health, and daily life. Anecdotally it is highly possible that pandemic related negative outcomes may have increased alcohol and drug using behavior as a coping mechanism, however, little has changed in the quantity of alcohol and tobacco imported for consumption during the two years covered in the 2021 BerDIN publication. The effects of the pandemic on the drug market is not fully known with the global closing of borders potentially leading to shortages of drugs on the street and increased prices and reduced purity.  The Treatment Demand Survey, administered at local treatment centres, indicated however, that the drug market is alive and flourishing in Bermuda as the primary drugs of choice, alcohol and marijuana, were available and affordable in 2020.

While resources continue to be dedicated towards restricting the supply of drugs into Bermuda as part of an integrated and balanced approach, it also recognises the parallel importance of reducing the demand for drugs. Criminal trials and convictions for drug and alcohol related offences have significantly decreased over the past year.

The demand for drugs remains unchanged, significant challenges persist in the Island’s ability to adequately address the needs of substance users, their families, and the community. Gaps in substance abuse treatment services for youth, especially on-island residential treatment, remains unfunded. The Mental Health Court remains operational, although a lack of an inpatient, medically-monitored substance abuse treatment programme/service makes placing dual-diagnosed clients in treatment even more difficult. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic directly impacted the ability to service persons in need of substance abuse treatment, especially during the shelter in place and stay at home orders. Added to the challenges, synthetic drugs, such as shatter, cannabis wax substances, and other concentrates, were reported to be used in the community and with rising popularity in terms of use.

In a time of public health crisis, data collection is often negatively impacted due to shifting priorities. In some jurisdictions, data collection was halted altogether; however, we are thankful to be able to continue to monitor the current drug situation with only a few datasets not being available. Our individual and collective mandates are vital as we respond to the challenges faced by demand and supply reduction in a time of COVID-19. There is much work ahead and only through your engagement and support can we reduce the harms associated with alcohol and drug use. As a community, we must stand together in this time of uncertainty.

The BerDin report is posted on https://www.gov.bm/substance-abuse-statistics-and-reports