Any new strategies to tackle drugs?

Three reports highlight the difficulty in fighting the drug war in Singapore (Drug use among the young: Abusers getting more brazen, Rising number nabbed at checkpoints, Treatment critical but challenging, say experts; all published on June 26).

Winning it is impossible, but containing the menace is doable.

Punishment has proved not to help; the statistics say it all and so does the changing profile of the drug user today.

Drugs are on the streets, either in Singapore or overseas.

The only way to contain the drug menace is through education and awareness, and more effective programmes for rehabilitation and reintegration.

Unfortunately, the efforts in these areas are not strong or effective enough, given the prevalence of drug consumption in Singapore. It is too easy to blame the addict and his poor sense of personal accountability and responsibility. But there are roles for families, communities and society to play too, for example to stop the stigma.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has to revisit its anti-drug strategies. A good start was made at the parliamentary session in April (MPs outline ways to strengthen Singapore's fight against drugs; April 5). What has come of it?

Can MHA tell the public what new strategies they are undertaking?

Unless the perils of drug consumption penetrate every living room here, and in a sustained manner, very little will change.

Let us stop avoiding the real work that has to be done. Let us define the adaptive challenges we face, identify our blind spots and evaluate our assumptions to help us develop more effective anti-drug strategies.

A national conversation and an anti-drug campaign is sorely needed for Singapore.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'Any new strategies to tackle drugs?'. Print Edition | Subscribe