See the ugly face of drug abuse

Visitors on board the "Drug Buster Academy Bus" at CNB's one-day roadshow at VivoCity yesterday. This special bus makes use of augmented reality technology to transform people's faces so they can see for themselves what drugs can do to them.
Visitors on board the "Drug Buster Academy Bus" at CNB's one-day roadshow at VivoCity yesterday. This special bus makes use of augmented reality technology to transform people's faces so they can see for themselves what drugs can do to them.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Use of augmented reality aboard special bus offers the young a peek into impact of drugs

Augmented reality technology has been used not only in mobile games like Pokemon Go, but also in a special bus which aims to show the young the ugly face of drug abuse.

Indeed, visitors on board the "Drug Buster Academy Bus" had their faces scanned and digitally transformed to see the impact of drug abuse on their faces.

The bus was one of the features at the one-day roadshow at VivoCity held by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) yesterday.

It was part of a new roving, anti- drug exhibition and a rebranded social media platform launched by the bureau in a bid to turn youth away from drugs.

"Instead of just hearing of the harmful effects of drugs, the audience can actually take a look for themselves how exactly drugs harm the body," said CNB director of communications Gillian Ong.

Yesterday's roadshow was attended by about 1,000 people.

Latest statistics show that more people under 30 are getting hooked on drugs. This group made up the bulk of the 729 new drug abusers arrested by the CNB in the first half of the year.

Of this number arrested, 485 were below 30 - a group that has seen an increase in arrests of about 9 per cent from the same period last year, when 446 new drug abusers under 30 were arrested.

The Home Affairs Ministry has said it is concerned about growing liberal attitudes towards drugs.

But the CNB is hoping its new social media image would allow it to reach out to more people here.

Its social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, now use the moniker "CNB Drug Free SG".

"The youth are curious, so they would want to find out a lot more about what the effects of drugs are. We also felt that through our social media platforms, and also through the bus, they can actually see for themselves," said Ms Ong.

Since July, the bus has been making about five visits per month to primary and secondary schools, as well as Institute of Technical Education. It will continue to make the rounds at schools here for the rest of the year, said Ms Ong.

She said: "What we want is if (the youth) are ever offered drugs, for them to take a minute to stop and remember what they have seen on the bus, remember what they have seen on the posts, and then say 'no'."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'See the ugly face of drug abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe