Deputy Premier and Communications and Works Minister the Honourable Kye Rymer has called for greater consideration to be made to the social impact of alcohol use in the territory.
Rymer spoke on the matter as he rose in support of the modernised liquor legislation before the House of Assembly.
“When alcohol is not controlled or used in moderation the implications are far reaching. I see throughout the community some of my classmates, some of my schoolmates, the effects of using too much alcohol – what it has done to them and as we go through this bill I am hoping that somewhere that you know we think about the social impact of alcoholism”, he said.
Referencing a report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Rymer reflected on the worrying, prevailing situation as it relates to alcohol abuse in the BVI and the wider Caribbean and the health risks associated with such behaviour.
“The region of the Americas has the highest consumption of alcohol in the world. Alcohol consumption, especially among youth, is a major public health concern. The harmful consumption of alcohol is associated with a range of health and social consequences including injuries, several forms of cancer, chronic liver disease, heart disease, alcohol dependence and even domestic violence” he noted.
To aid in addressing the social impacts of alcoholism Rymer suggested that the territory explore an alcohol dependency treatment programme like that of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Earlier where I spoke about social issues, I’m hoping that we can establish some sort of program within our community to address these persons who are affected by the over usage of the consumption of alcohol… I know in other jurisdictions there is something called “AA” [Alcoholics Anonymous] … maybe we could create. I’m not sure If there is any program here… It would be good to refer persons to that government funded agency or if there is a private entity that you can put funds towards that”, he said.
According to the Deputy Premier, a 2019 report conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Development in collaboration with the BVI Social Security Board found that over 50 percent of men in the BVI between the ages of 25 – 64 consumed alcohol, 27 percent of which admitted to heavy consumption.
As the territory modernises the way it deals with alcohol at the licensing stage, Rymer is urging Virgin Islanders to be responsible with their use of alcohol.