Policy on substance abuse needs to be based on evidence

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Study findings map substance use among young people

A number of risk and resiliency factors that present themselves along the substance use trajectory have been mapped out as part of a comprehensive analysis of data on substance use in adolescence and emerging adulthood commissioned and funded by Save A Life Foundation. Prevention remains one of the strongest mechanisms that can counter substance abuse.

Amongst other data collated from various studies and source, the study reports that the rate of cannabis use among 15-16 year olds in Malta stands at 16 per cent, four percentage points lower than the EU average, although a third of Maltese adolescents in this age bracket perceive the drug to be fairly easy to obtain, more than double the rate of their European peers.

“The findings reflect the complexity of issues and the factors at play in this sensitive area.”

Hon. Claudio Grech

Conducted by the Faculty of Social Wellbeing within the University of Malta, the study brings together the latest research covering alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, illicit drugs, nonmedical use of prescription drugs as well as treatment demand and perceptions of young people towards substance use.

The findings are now being published to equip those engaged in the effort against substance abuse and addictions with a deeper insight into trends among young people.

“We have an obligation to support the agencies and organisations on the frontlines of the struggle against drug abuse and this research is a solid contribution towards that goal,” explained the founder of Save A Life Foundation, Hon. Claudio Grech, during the presentation of results. “The findings reflect the complexity of issues and the factors at play in this sensitive area.”

The MP described the anguish of parents who have lost their children to drugs as the greatest form of suffering he experienced in his public life: “Substance abuse brings total devastation in the lives of victims and their families.”

Save A Life Foundation was established with a mission to better understand the causes of addiction problems and investing in projects intended to strengthen prevention in our local communities. Hon. Grech said that the study clearly underlines the importance of building policy on the basis of evidence and by drawing on the knowledge and depth of experts.

Professor Andrew Azzopardi, Dean of the Faculty of Social Wellbeing, expressed confidence that the scholarship will contribute to the academic, policy, political and strategy fields if decisionmakers listen to the data.

“The commissioning of this research by the Save a Life Foundation to the Faculty for Social Wellbeing is another important building block in helping us navigate around the challenges that we are experiencing in the area of addiction,” said Prof. Azzopardi. “It is a privilege, as a Faculty, to be able to partake in this effort and this compendium and analysis of data will for sure provide the cornerstone for the development of policy in this sector.”

The Executive Summary of the research is available at http://bit.ly/SummarySaveALifeResearch.

The full study can be accessed through http://bit.ly/SaveALifeResearch.

About Save A Life Foundation

Save A Life Foundation was established by Claudio Grech and his wife Charmaine in 2013 to build more engaged communities in the first district by empowering children and young people. The foundation has launched twelve different projects, benefitting some 1,500 youths. The main funding comes from Hon. Grech’s parliamentary honoraria.