Do more to tackle drug menace

The executions of Chijioke Stephen Obioha and Devendran Supramaniam ("Two drug traffickers hanged after appeals fail"; Nov 19) were part of the Government's zero-tolerance policy in the war against drugs.

But it is a war that is difficult to win. This is where "harm reduction" should come in more strongly.

In harm reduction, the focus is on pre-emptive education and awareness strategies and activities, and effective rehabilitation and reintegration approaches to prevent addicts from relapsing.

The Government has worked hard in these areas, yet more young people are taking drugs, and many addicts continue to relapse ("Rising number of drug abusers under age 30"; June 26).

If many addicts continue to relapse, then our rehabilitation and reintegration efforts may not be effective enough.

Singapore needs more resources and more effective strategies to contain the drug menace.

Drug rehabilitation centres here need to understand the predisposing factors that drive each addict towards drugs, so that intervention approaches can be tailored to suit the individual.

Every addict is different, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

Centres must also review how much effort they are putting into helping an addict turn over a new leaf. Has locking them up for long periods of time been effective?

More effective national approaches are needed to help addicts reintegrate with families, communities and society, so as to reduce the chances of relapse.

There is still too much stigma surrounding addicts, and former addicts feel that society is a second prison.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Do more to tackle drug menace'. Print Edition | Subscribe