During these uncertain times, those who misuse or abuse alcohol and/or other drugs, are particularly vulnerable especially communities living in urban underserved settlements in close proximity. The stress from social isolation and other COVID-19 related life changes can lead to or worsen substance use and misuse. It has been reported that starting or increasing substance use has been experimented as a way of coping with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 in the urban underserved settlements.
With the current pandemic situation in the country and with restricted community interaction, the training programme on “Impact of substance use during a pandemic situation and preventive measures” had to be conducted via zoom. It was held on 26th May from 9am to 11am. The training was conducted by Dr. Karunaratne Gamage, former Director General of the National Institute of Social Development and an expert of community development.
Community leaders of CBOs; community members of all ages from 2021 selected settlements of Gampaha, Ratnapura, Kurunegala, Colombo, Kegalle, Nuwara Eliya and Anuradhapura; and the staff of the social mobilization division of USDA participated the programme. In total there were 78 attendees.
Two simplified, informative and detailed sessions were conducted. Subject areas covered included:
➢ The role of community leader and their responsibilities during a pandemic situation
➢ How to conduct programmes with external parties during a pandemic situation.
➢ How to prevent and control substance use within the settlement during the prevailing condition
➢ Impact and effects of substance use during a pandemic situation.
➢ Community awareness on substance use preventive and control measures
At the end of the programme an interactive Q and A session took place with the enthusiastic involvement of the community members. They shared their insights, views, suggestions and feedback about the current situation, how they have operated and actions taken with their respective communities to overcome the prevailing situation.
Very positive feedback were received from the communities who participated for the programme thanking USDA and its staff for the initiative taken during these trying times.