Alcohol and Drug Use in Honiara, Solomon Islands: A Cause for Concern

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The pervasive use of tobacco and psychoactive substances is becoming an increasing problem in the Solomon Islands. The change from a traditional betel chewing community to a society with multi-substance use and abuse gathered momentum after the SecondWorldWar. When in 1987 Bennett published her historical account of the Solomon Islands history from 1800–1978 she refers to the introduction of tobacco and alcohol by whalers and traders in the 19th century.With the exception of betel nuts, there is not a single reference to the consumption of neither marijuana or other drugs. Simply, because at that time these substances were unknown among the islanders. Later, Donner could reveal that the process for fermenting toddy had been introduced to Sikaiana by some Kiribati refugees in the late 19th century. Since then the use of alcohol and tobacco has gradually increased without any serious intervention by neither the government, health and educational authorities, nor by the many churches and missions. In the 1990's marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogenic plant drugs and the misuse of prescription- and nonprescription drugs appeared on the drug scene. Especially the use of marijuana has exploded. A young Solomon Islander, who had been overseas for several years describes his great surprise when in 1996 he returned to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, and saw how many young people were hanging around smoking marijuana, and drinking home brew.