Address human problems behind drug abuse

The report on how a father initiated his sons into the world of drugs reminds us of what happens when individuals, families, communities and society do not stay on top of the drug menace ("Father gets jail, caning for giving drugs to his son"; Jan 6).

To the public, drug addicts are seen as criminals.

They do not see the human problem or face behind the crime.

The father was reported to have got himself into bad company when he was young, and his wife died of illness five years ago.

He might have given drugs to his sons to keep his relationship with them.

But now, the entire family is in trouble.

We need to do more to educate and raise awareness about drug abuse.

While it is an individual's responsibility to stay off addictive and self-harming activities, we must recognise that not all individuals and family units are psychologically rugged and robust enough to live constructively.

The anti-drug message from footballer Irfan Fandi is a good start ("Footballer Irfan Fandi is new anti-drug advocate for the Central Narcotics Bureau"; ST Online, Jan 3).

However, it is far from sufficient.

While it is an individual's responsibility to stay off addictive and self-harming activities, we must recognise that not all individuals and family units are psychologically rugged and robust enough to live constructively.

Poor relationships are at the core of most destructive habits.

Our awareness message must be expanded to include the perils of taking drugs, the reasons people get into drugs, the impact it has on families and society, and what individuals and families need to do if someone takes drugs or relapses.

We should not mince our words, as every day, more people are getting into drugs or relapsing, and more families get broken up, if not because of drug abuse, then from the punishment meted out.

We do not hear enough about what the authorities or society are doing to prevent drugs from becoming a way of life and to help those who relapse.

Youngsters and those who have taken drugs should be assisted in discussing the triggers and the strategies they can adopt to cut down on their cravings.

This would be more effective than just jailing them.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2017, with the headline 'Address human problems behind drug abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe