Strat Matters

Exploring how planning and managing aspects of our strategy and operations enable our competitive advantage…

Cause and Effect Analysis of drug use among adolescents in Trinidad: A Malabar Case Study





Cause-and-effect analysis is a systematic way of generating and sorting hypotheses about possible causes of a problem. Once the root causes of problems are identified, they can be addressed rather than just the symptoms. From such an analysis, a fish-bone diagram must be developed to further analyse the origins of the problem. A fish-bone diagram helps to visually display the causes to the problems identified. In order to successfully construct our fish-bone diagram, we started with stating our problem in the form of a question, which provided the scope and formed the basis of our discussion., “What are the causes and effects of the drug epidemic in Malabar, Trinidad.” By phrasing the topic in this way, it helped us to focus the scope of our discussion on a high priority issue, that being, the causes and effects of drug use. Having defined our problem statement, the various categories will be assessed by defining the causes, and how these lead to drug abuse by teens in this area. It must be noted that our choice of categories depended heavily on the context within which this issue occurred. Since this problem is situational, our categories included factors that would have directly influenced drug use among youth in this area. They included family, social, individual, and community or environment.


Figure showing drugs from a recent seizure in Malabar, Arima




Under the category of family, we identified several causes for drug abuse by teens in this area. A recent study revealed that children from broken homes are five times more likely to develop drug and alcohol addiction issues. This is because of the mere fact that children may feel as though they were the reason for parents’ divorce or split. As a result, they may turn to drugs in order to find comfort, which acts as an alternative to the comfort that they would have received from their parents. In their article “Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use: An Exploration of Single-Parent Families”, Hemovich and Crano, (2011) highlight some specific factors that lead to drug use by adolescents. They looked at peer pressure, curiosity, and rebellion. Essentially, they focused on the individual, which is the factor that accounts the greatest for engaging in such activities. In addition to this, broken homes may imply lack of supervision since children from broken homes usually live with one parent at a time. On occasions where the children are unsupervised, they may choose this opportunity to engage in such illegal activities. Another cause of drug use in Malabar was shown to be poor socialization. In general, it is important for children to learn socialization skills so that they can function effectively as adults in society. In this case, the children with poor socialization skills are less likely to form healthy relationships as adults, and have a higher likelihood of running into trouble either with the juvenile or adult legal system. As a resident of this area, I can attest to this theory because I have actually seen on many occasions where police officers have arrested teenage boys for engaging in in illegal drug activity, all coming from single parent homes.


Another category that influenced drug use by youth in this area was social factors. These included peer pressure, social media, school, and role models. There is a lot of pressure placed on teenagers by other teens to engage in status building activities, and drug use just happens to be one of these activities. Parent Further, a Search Institute, in a recent publication revealed that only 10% of teenagers surveyed revealed that they had not been influenced by peer pressure. This shows the extent to which peer pressure is identified as a cause for teens engaging in illegal drug activity. In addition to this, globalization has virtually made the world a lot smaller as it allows the greater freedom of movement of capital, people, technology, and goods and services. We are now exposed to all forms of social media daily and this can definitely have a significant impact on our lives. Teenagers in general are a lot more malleable, thus, making them more susceptible to the influence of social media. As an extension to the point of globalization, social media has revolutionized the world of communication through accessibility by smartphones. More teens are exposed to influences, especially from the US, that can be damaging to their character and moral development. In this regard, the issue of role models can also be highlighted. For instance, many young boys look up to Wiz Khalifa, a popular rapper who boasts about the amount of illegal substances that he smokes. Many young boys follow this act in order to fit in with their friends and be ‘cool’.


Undoubtedly, factors in the external environment or community can determine their involvement in such activities. Malabar is defined as a middle-class community, meaning that individuals are able to provide for themselves that necessities for living. However, some areas in particular have a culture of engaging in illegal drug trade. Over time, this has become a culture of the youth in that area and it has become a difficult one to remove.  One explanation for this is the cycle of poverty that exists in that neighborhood. Many individuals are unemployed and as such, are sometimes unable to go to school every day. This is the motivating factor that drives them to engage in illegal drug acts in order to generate more income for themselves and their family. In addition to this, once the culture of illegal drug activity has become established, it increases the availability of narcotics which increases the likelihood of youth choosing this as a lifestyle.

Finally, the last and probably most important factor influencing drug activity by youth in this community, is the individual. Here, a host of factors can cause a teenager to engage in illegal drug activity. We looked at personality, since this entails a broad set of individual characteristics that determine behavior. Research shows that individuals who are extroverted and open to change, as explained in the Big Five Model, are more likely to engage in such illegal activities. Accompanying this is self-esteem, which focuses on the value that an individual place on himself or herself. Individuals with a low self-esteem would be more likely to use drugs than those with a high self-esteem. Stemming from the point made on socialization, delayed gratification is a virtue that should be taught by parents to their children so that they would know and understand the value of hard work and sacrifice. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, many of the homes are broken or single parent, which makes effective socialization difficult since one parent has to perform the role of both parents. Many even rebel as a form of protest after parents decide to divorce, which makes either parent lose control of the child. They then turn to their friends, who advise them to use drugs become accepted and fill the void that his parents left. This is their form of escape form the realities of their ‘family’ life, and also to provide thrills as a form of entertainment. Cheap thrills are always an option for troubles teens and this gives them a rush of excitement knowing that they can be caught at any time.

The diagrams show evidence of extreme cases of drug activity in Malabar which resulted in murder and numerous arrests. As mentioned in his article “Drug trade fueling crime”, Tiwari-Ropnarine highlights the phenomenon of the illegal drug trade and its role as the genesis of all other criminal activity:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The following videos give insight to the current situation of drug use in Trinidad and how it leads to other criminal activities. Tiwari-Roopnarine (2016) pointed out that the illegal drug trade in Trinidad is the genesis from which most other crimes are born. In this instance, the increase in progressive crimes in T&T along with other transit hubs like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic were documented and compared to provide a quantitative measure against each other so that inferences can be made.





In order to gain a deeper understanding of this situation plaguing Malabar, we also looked at the history of cause and effect by numerous philosophers who provided richer explanations of this subject matter. Initially, the early Greeks conceived the law of cause and effect in the form expressed by Hippocrates, stating that “Every natural event has a natural cause”, and Plato, “considered that intellectual designs and purposes were the formative and guiding principles of all natural processes”. Sedley (2009) in his article “Platonic Causes”, provided justification to Plato’s argument stating that we do not pre-suppose what we already know, and what can and cannot count as a cause. He further adds that Plato has an attractive case for his principle that all causation is a matter of like causing like.



In this regard, Aristotle had a richer view of causality than Plato as he accepted also some of the doctrines expressed earlier upon the matter. There were, Aristotle indicated, four main types of cause. Firstly, there was the material cause of things, the primary matter out of which objects were made. Secondly, there were formal causes, the designs, patterns, and forms which were impressed upon the primary matter. There were, thirdly, efficient causes, providing the mechanisms whereby such designs were realized, and fourthly, final causes, which were the purposes for which the objects were designed. It maintains that he sees causes as things, not events, states of affairs or the like, with any information as to how that thing brings about the effect relegated to a strictly secondary status. Furthermore, provided that we do not pre-suppose that we already know what can and what cannot count as a cause, Plato proves to have an attractive case for his principle that all causation is a matter of like causing like. Once we appreciate this, we are a little closer to understanding his more idiosyncratic principle, which although puzzling is ubiquitous in his writings and often invoked as a premise in key arguments, that opposites cannot cause opposites. The last part of the paper turns to formal causes, defending Plato’s advocacy of them, and examining their role in the ‘Parmenides’’ Third Man Argument. The main proposal is that Plato’s conception of Forms as causes opens the door to a better version of that argument’s ‘Non-identity’ premise than those currently available.



Recommendations: Moving Forward

“Rehabilitation facilities are insufficient and under-resourced to meet local demand for treatment. Lack of sustainability of government funded programmes, particularly in the area of demand reduction, corruption, and gaps in legislative and organisational implementation remain challenges to the country’s efforts to curb the trafficking and use of illegal narcotics.” This was quoted from the local Guardian newspaper which thoroughly sums up the situation that exists currently in Trinidad with regards to our illegal drug trade. In the article, Washington State rightfully claims that “corruption, lack of sustainability of government funded programmes as well as gaps in legislative and organisational implementation continue to be challenges facing Trinidad and Tobago in its efforts to curb the trafficking and use of illegal narcotics.” There have been several ongoing attempts to eliminate the existence of drug use especially among youth in Trinidad. The Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs highlight several control strategies that they believe could serve as a platform to make such an initiative possible. In the article “War on drugs poses maritime security risk in Caribbean”, Stephenson (2012) highlights the threats that drug importation can have on the development of Caribbean territories. He goes into great detail when explaining the long term financial burden that crime caused by drug trafficking can cause, which hinders economic and social growth and development.

In 2015, an increase was shown to have existed in illegal drug shipment from Trinidad’s southern neighboring territories such as Venezuela and Guyana. Geographic factors accounted for such an increase, as the open coastline makes it an ideal hub for cocaine and marijuana shipment.


Figure showing the re-emergence of Trinidad as a hub for shipping drugs to West Africa and the US

As a recommendation in the realm of fostering Institutional Advancement, Trinidad continues its commitment to drug control through bilateral cooperation with the United States and intelligence sharing with countries of origin, transit, and destination. To facilitate this initiative, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago must regularly communicate with local, regional, and international organizations and collaborating on international and national priorities. Border patrol officials and coast guard maintenance are additional security measures that can be taken in an attempt to clamp down on illegal shipment of drugs and other narcotics. It must be noted that this recommendation is not without its respective challenges. Undoubtedly, they are challenged by deficiencies in staffing and funding, distrust within and between certain units of law enforcement, and the intelligence community impedes effective inter-agency information sharing and collaboration. This would serve to curb the existence of the illegal drug trade in Trinidad especially among at-risk youth.

Another strategy to eliminate the existence of the illegal drug trade could be derived from the laws of demand and supply. Simply put, a reduction in supply would mean that there would be less of this commodity available for consumption. As such, price increases would serve as a demotivating factor to purchasing and this in itself would eventually lead to a reduction in the amount being sold and consumed. Statistics showed that marijuana is the only known locally-produced illicit drug and that production is concentrated on small farms in the heavily forested, mountainous regions.


Eliminating the illegal drug trade using the laws of demand and supply

It was also found that other illicit drugs, primarily cocaine, but also small amounts of heroin and ecstasy, are trafficked through the country by transnational organized crime groups operating in Trinidad and Tobago, exploiting its close proximity to Venezuela and vulnerabilities at ports of entry. The main destination for these substances is the European market. Statistics also show that a hefty amount of narcotics continue to be seized in Trinidad and Tobago, with reports stating that law enforcement entities seized 146.3 kilograms (kg) of cocaine and 2.26 metric tons of marijuana in 2012 and made five major seizures at seaports during the year. A more direct approach in this regard can also be taken by adopting Coordinated Interdiction Operations. In essence, interdiction in transit and arrival zones disrupts drug flow, increases risks to traffickers, drives them to less efficient routes and methods, and will prevent significant amounts of drugs from getting into Trinidad and Tobago. Interdiction also generates intelligence that can be used against trafficking organizations in both international and domestic operations.

Another direct approach could be to provide public information, prevention, and treatment. Under this approach, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago should take an active interest in the elimination of the illegal drug trade by funding research into the development of an increase in the number of drug treatment programs available. With regards to prevention efforts, they could include school-based education programs, training for educators, anti-drug media campaigns, and special outreach events.


Figure showing the New Life Ministries Rehabilitation Center

In 2014, Trinidad and Tobago launched its National Supply Reduction Strategy designed to reduce the illicit production and trafficking of drugs and to promote related control measures. Trinidad and Tobago successfully piloted an alternative drug treatment sentencing program in 2014 that produced its first graduates and continues to successfully expand the program. In September 2015, Trinidad and Tobago launched its Adolescent Drug Treatment Program to train professionals who interact with adolescents to identify and treat alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use. In addition to this, The New Life Ministries Rehabilitation Center as shown in Figure 5 above was incorporated in September 1986 and is a Center that provides a two-year rehabilitation program for persons addicted to drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and other mind/mood-altering chemicals/ substances.

In addition to Treatment and Rehabilitation, the Center offers free services such as Drug awareness/prevention seminars, In-house seminars for schools, Family interventions for families in crisis, Counselling/assessments for walk-ins, Support group for families of past clients, Referrals for those who require specialist and other services, and resource facility for students in medicine, psychology, social work. they have claimed that approximately 78% of graduates of the program have managed to steer clear of drug use after leaving the facility. This figure shows the benefits that such programs can have on the improvement in the quality of life of persons who have become drug addicts especially in times when all hope is lost. Similar institutions can be developed for troubled teens in order that they are not led astray by external factors as mentioned in the categories of our cause and effect diagram. This makes the implementation of similar programs a more lucrative initiative. There is also continued progress with implementing the Regional Counter Drug Intelligence Training School, which graduated its first training class in November 2015. This will undoubtedly aid in protecting at-risk youth from the factors that could lead to them becoming involved in the illegal drug trade. In addition to this, provision of support and skills training can be used to enhance the level of engagement by adolescents. This can include amenities such as sporting facilitates with coaches and mentors who can play a father-like role model to youth in cases where they may be from a broken home. The activities should be affordable or free of charge, and they should also be designed as an after school programme, since this period may usually mean less parental supervision. Following the direct micro-level strategies, counselling should be provided to students via community hotlines and be made available to depressed and distressed teens to provide support where necessary.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Caribbean territories have been receiving continued support from the US and other developed nations in an attempt to eliminate the existence of such illegal activities. One such example is The United States government’s regional security partnership, the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), which began in 2010 with goals of reducing illicit trafficking, increasing public safety and security, and promoting social justice. Trinidad and Tobago’s CBSI programming focuses on law enforcement, military strengthening, youth development, juvenile justice, and demand reduction. in this regard, it can be seen that there are organizations and initiatives in place to combat the existence of illegal drug trade among juveniles in Trinidad and Tobago. It must be noted that such initiatives were not without their challenges, which existed mainly in areas of financial support. Hence, it was concluded that revision of outdated policies and procedures is a necessary action that must be taken my officials of the Ministry of National Security so as to foster a climate of safety. A similar alternative could include neighbourhood watch surveillance and patrols to capture any activities that would require further investigation. Moreover, it is the duty of state officials to ensure that appropriate strategies and policies are implemented, assessed, and evaluated occasionally to determine its effectiveness. This will make it clearer to such individuals how far they have come and what distance they must go before it is safe to say that the endemic of drug abuse has been has been curbed.


Hemovich, Vanessa. Crano, William D. (2011). “Family Structure and Adolescent Drug Use: An Exploration of Single-Parent Families”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from

Seelal, Nalinee. “Fresh Weed Probe.” Newsday Newspaper. 17th June, 2015. Trinidad and Tobago News Blog. Web. 18th November, 2016.

Stephenson, Alexander. 2012. “War on drugs poses maritime security risk in Caribbean”. Retrieved from

Tiwari-Ropnarine, Urvashi. “Drug trade fuelling crime”. Guardian Newspaper. 13th January, 2016. Retrieved from

Achong, Derek. “$3 million drug seizure in Arima”. Guardian Newspaper. 10th January, 2015. Retrieved from

Mohammed, Susan. “Man killed in Arima ‘drug block”. Express Newspaper. 27th June, 2016. Retrieved from

“2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (T&T)”. 3rd March, 2016. Retrieved from

“What the report states”. Express Newspaper. 18th March, 2013. Retrieved from

Sedley, David. 2009. “Platonic Causes”. A journal for ancient philosophy. Vol. 43, No. 2. Retrieved from


8 thoughts on “Cause and Effect Analysis of drug use among adolescents in Trinidad: A Malabar Case Study

  1. The Strategizers: Excellent work, very detailed and informative

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The entry of illegal drugs into Trinidad and Tobago continues to be an urgent and important border security and crime prevention issue and one, we suspect, is not likely to be resolved in the near future. Addressing the issue of drug-use and abuse amongst the youth must be direct and immediate. Apart from the focus on rehabilitation activities, there are preventative, educational actions that can and must be actioned. One cannot deny the impact of the “Just Say No” anti-drugs campaigns of the 90’s which acted as a deterrent to young people who were contemplating or exposed to illegal drugs. While there are still posters at school, etc that encourage anti-drug attitudes, the engagement of our children with anti-drugs initiatives is limited. Therefore, efforts must be made to develop and launch an impactful, unique, catchy and influential anti-drug campaign in Trinidad and Tobago. As it relates to drugs, prevention is the best intervention to drug use and rehabilitation is the way to go for those who have crossed over to dependence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very detailed and well researched piece. The root of this matter is that poor young men do not have the kind of finances to import the drugs, so law enforcement have to get to the root of the suppliers and government have to put measures in place to protect the borders of the country from the entry of illegal drugs. If this does not take place all your recommendations will be in vain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The cause and effect analysis brought forward by the group “The Strategizers” was excellent. They clearly stated and supported their points for the why the youths of Malabar may use drugs and the effects they may encounter. However, alternative forms of drug reform in the form of decriminalization of certain ‘soft drugs’ such as marijuana can be made as a recommendation.
    We can examine the following statement made by: British Journal of Psychiatry. February 2001.

    “The available evidence suggests that removal of the prohibition against possession itself (decriminalization) does not increase cannabis use. … This prohibition inflicts harms directly and is costly. Unless it can be shown that the removal of criminal penalties will increase use of other harmful drugs, … it is difficult to see what society gains.”
    – Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes.

    This statement is echoed in many different academic reviewed journals such as:

    “There is no strong evidence that decriminalization affects either the choice or frequency of use of drugs, either legal (alcohol) or illegal (marijuana and cocaine).” – C. Thies and C. Register. 1993. Decriminalization of Marijuana and the Demand for Alcohol, Marijuana and Cocaine. The Social Sciences Journal 30: 385-399.

    “The Law Revision Commission has examined laws from other states that have reduced penalties for small amounts of marijuana and the impact of those laws in those states. … Studies of [those] states found (1) expenses for arrest and prosecution of marijuana possession offenses were significantly reduced, (2) any increase in the use of marijuana in those states was less that increased use in those states that did not decrease their penalties and the largest proportionate increase occurred in those states with the most severe penalties, and (3) reducing the penalties for marijuana has virtually no effect on either choice or frequency of the use of alcohol or illegal ‘harder’ drugs such as cocaine.”- Connecticut Law Review Commission. 1997. Drug Policy in Connecticut and Strategy Options: Report to the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. State Capitol: Hartford.

    It can be noted that the above academically reviewed articles are dated. It is necessary to look at an updated example. It can be observed that the United States of America (USA) is a major focal point for the decriminalization of ‘soft-drugs’ such as marijuana. The study “Status Report: Marijuana Legalization in Colorado After One Year of Retail Sales and Two Years of Decriminalization” can be used to illustrate the effects of decriminalization of cannabis. The researchers stated, “Since the first retail marijuana stores opened on January 1st, 2014, the state of Colorado has benefitted from a decrease in crime rates, a decrease in traffic fatalities, an increase in tax revenue and economic output from retail marijuana sales, and an increase in jobs.” The positive effects cannot be overlooked.

    We can now focus on the youths of Malabar, they are currently undergoing many causal factors that will lead to them using the drugs as a form of ‘fitting in’ or escapism. One major recommendation presented by “The Strategizers” is to put drug prevention programmes on the front burner of the political agenda. The problem is, the budgetary allocations prevent such wide scale intervention.

    An alternative approach to drug prevention can be made. Marijuana can be decriminalized using best practices from around the world and it can be heavily regulated. Decriminalization entails legislation being passed to reduce or eliminate the punishments associated with possessing small amounts of marijuana or other recreational drugs.

    Colorado has, put into place numerous ‘Youth Prevention Efforts’. These efforts are heavily supported by the tremendous tax revenue gained by the government. The following statement can be quoted from the Non-Profit Organisation, the Drug Policy Alliance, ‘The state has allocated more than $8 million in retail marijuana tax revenue for youth prevention and education, mental health and community based developmental programs’. The youths of Malabar will in doubt benefit from programmed such as these.


    Kamin, Sam. “Marijuana Legalization in Colorado — Lessons for Colombia.” SSRN Electronic Journal SSRN Journal (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. .

    Marijuana Legalization: Research Review on Crime and Impaired Driving – Journalist’s Resource.” Journalist’s Resource. N.p., 26 Oct. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Trinidad and Tobago continue to face challenges in curtailing the drug trade. Senior officials don’t have the political will to deal with it. And as a result our misguided young men and women fall prey and are slave to this phenomenon.

    The Government of Trinidad and Tobago should raise conviction rates to deter traffickers, implement reforms to expedite prosecutions, revise outdated laws and standard operating procedures, and establish an evidence-based criminal justice system.

    Rehabilitation facilities are insufficient and under resourced to meet local demand for treatment. Lack of sustainability of government funded programmes, particularly in the area of recidivism, corruption, and gaps in legislative and organisational implementation remain challenges to the country’s efforts to curb the trafficking and use of illegal narcotics.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was well done the points that really reached out to me was the fact the our boarders are open and there is a greater need for us as Trinidadian to demand from our leaders that more be done for the sake of our children. Secondly introduction of sports into the community is a great idea another good idea may be to bring back the trade schools to give the kids that have nothing to do a means of making a legitimate contribution to society. With the rehab situation it would be nice to see more centers being opened while at the same time making the public more aware of their capabilities. This would allow person to be better equip to deal with friend or family the may need the help of the facility


  7. I understand for the purpose of this blog, you chose to highlight drug use in ONLY Malabar,
    It is important to note that drug use is a national problem. The drug epidemic is rampant through this country and affects both the affluent and low income families and neighborhoods across the country.
    Both “Low income and High income” families should be examined.

    The blog solely examines the splitting of families as one of the main causes for drug use, and teenagers feeling some blame. I beg to differ
    Instead, teenagers from low income familes are more predisposed to becoming addicted to drugs and abusing drugs.
    They are more predisposed because of their environment, simply put its their “norm”. It’s what they see on a daily basis.
    Now this is a problem seen across both races, so again this should be mentioned

    In lower income families, African homes tend to be a single family unit with the mother as head of the household.
    Historically, it has been this way, as nuclear family types were not a norm or encouraged as a slave type (Higman 1984). Today this broken family home is still evident.
    So in combination with an ailing neighbourhood ,there is a lack of a father figure in the home.
    This makes them more predisposed to abusing drugs and turning to crime


    Single mother or single family homes is on an upward trend among Indo trinidadians. Typically they tend to live in extended family units. Alcohol and drug dependence is caused from both the environment and using alcohol or drugs “recreationally” that then turns into an addiction.

    Also, socialization was highlighted. The blog failed to define what is socialization and differentiate between the two types of socialization
    Socialization is defined as the process by which the social order is involuntarily and (if necessary) coercively transferred onto a person, beginning as a newborn baby.
    Primary socialization is is done by the family- Can an individual be properly socialized if he or she is raised in a broken home or ill environment?
    socialization is done by the school and churches for example.
    Members of lower income families do not have access to “quality” education or socialization.
    Schools in lower income neighbourhoods do not teach or expect students to reach their full potential. They do not expect them to be the ones to be tomorrow’s leaders. Instead they get delinquent teachers and delinquency breeds delinquency.

    In terms of peer pressure I agree! Especially with higher income teenagers this is evident.
    They turn to drugs as an experiment, not because of their environment or broken home.
    Most times its to appear cool, it is something they associate with their cool friends or celebrities such as Rihanna and Wiz who are all 420 friendly
    I agree completely with unemployment and the use and distribution of the drugs.
    Members of society may turn to drugs as a way of providing for their family and seeing it as fast money.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s