Rehabilitation a key plank in anti-drug strategy

We thank Mr Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam (Key issues missing in new anti-drug strategy; April 8) for his feedback.

In our fight against drugs, Singapore adopts a comprehensive strategy, covering preventive drug education, tough laws, effective enforcement and rehabilitation.

The Drug Rehabilitation Centres (DRCs) play a central role in the rehabilitation of drug abusers. They equip abusers with the skills to cope with situations which may cause them to go back to drug abuse.

The rehabilitation approach is differentiated based on risk of re-offending. Risk assessment by psychologists considers factors such as criminal and drug abuse history, and family support.

Correctional Rehabilitation Specialists conduct high-intensity counselling programmes for higher-risk abusers to address their drug-addiction issues.

Family support as well as physical, mental and spiritual health are also important elements of the programme.

The DRCs also conduct programmes to help drug abusers pick up skills to strengthen family bonds. This may include joint family sessions to tackle issues such as the impact of the abuser's addiction on the rest of the family.

Holding down a job is key to prevent re-offending after the drug abusers leave the DRC. And to help them in this, drug abusers can undergo skills training in DRC and be matched with jobs before release.

Lower-risk abusers are able to go out to work or study during the day under the Day Release Scheme. The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) also partners halfway houses to deliver community-based programmes.

This will help abusers with their subsequent reintegration into the community.

However, many deep-seated issues contributing to addiction require long-term efforts to address.

Hence, SPS also works with community partners to ensure that the rehabilitation does not stop after the abusers' release. Through the Yellow Ribbon Project, we work with the community to support the acceptance of ex-offenders back into society.

Finally, the drug abusers must themselves be responsible for their behaviour and be committed to change.

Sunny Lee

Director (Media Relations)

Community Partnership and Communications Group

Ministry of Home Affairs

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2017, with the headline 'Rehabilitation a key plank in anti-drug strategy'. Print Edition | Subscribe