Singapore's multi-pronged approach against drugs

Singapore adopts a multi-pronged and comprehensive approach to tackling drugs ("Rehabilitation the winning move, not incarceration"; Aug 1).

Upstream, we educate youth on the harm and consequences of drug abuse.

With the right information, we hope that our youth will reject the temptation of drugs.

We intervene early when youth abuse drugs.

There are various rehabilitation options for first-time youth abusers.

Low-risk youth placed on the Youth Enhanced Supervision Scheme receive counselling and undergo urine supervision.

Moderate-risk youth undergo residential rehabilitation in the Community Rehabilitation Centre, where they can continue with their education or work during the day.

High-risk youth are sent to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC), removing them from an environment where they could influence others or be influenced to take drugs.

Rehabilitation is key to our holistic approach.

First- and second-time drug abusers are typically referred for compulsory rehabilitation in the DRC.

Based on their risks and needs, these drug abusers undergo rehabilitation programmes in the DRC to help them overcome their addiction.

Thereafter, they are placed on aftercare programmes, which include counselling and supervision, to facilitate their reintegration into society.

We take a strong deterrence approach against repeat drug abuse, which causes substantial harm and negative influence to families and to society.

Repeat drug abusers are sentenced to imprisonment.

This prevents them from taking drugs, and protects society, particularly the young and vulnerable, from being influenced by hardened drug addicts into consuming drugs.

It also prevents them from committing crimes as a result of their drug habit.

Repeat abusers continue to receive rehabilitation.

While in prison, they undergo programmes to help them overcome their addiction.

Upon release, they are placed on the Mandatory Aftercare Scheme, which provides structured supervision with conditions such

as electronic monitoring, curfews and urine tests.

Apart from tackling drug demand, we also take firm measures against drug traffickers.

This reduces the supply of drugs entering Singapore.

The problems that each country faces with drugs are based on their particular social, cultural and historical contexts.

There is no single universal solution to this complex problem.

Our approach has worked. Our streets are largely drug-free and our relapse rates for drug abusers have remained low.

Even as we continue to work closely with our community partners to rehabilitate drug abusers and keep Singapore drug-free, it is ultimately every individual's responsibility to stay away from drugs.

Jimmy Lee

Director, Corporate Communications and Relations

Singapore Prison Service

Gillian Ong (Ms)

Director, Communications

Central Narcotics Bureau

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Singapore's multi-pronged approach against drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe