More precise research needed to improve anti-drug strategy

If the Government wishes to improve its anti-drug strategy, then more precise research is needed to understand the underlying attitudes of young Singaporeans (Experts worry as some young people soften stance on drugs; April 28).

The perception survey by the National Council Against Drug Abuse showed that 16 per cent of those aged 13 to 21 had a liberal attitude towards drugs last year, compared with 11 per cent in 2013.

But perception surveys can do only so much. For instance, drug-related information can be derived from social media and websites, but it does not necessarily follow that young people are therefore influenced by these sources.

What would be more productive, in addition to findings on attitudes and knowledge, is to uncover factors that predispose young people to drug consumption.

Some of these could, for example, include socio-demographic factors and peer or community networks.

Other trigger factors could also be identified.

Focus groups with a sample of the survey respondents could yield insights, although the perspectives of recovering or former drug addicts would prove most useful.

What will be helpful, in other words, are causal explanations for drug consumption or addiction, from which policy interventions or programmes could be designed.

Kwan Jin Yao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2017, with the headline 'More precise research needed to improve anti-drug strategy'. Print Edition | Subscribe