Help 'pure' drug abusers rehabilitate and reintegrate

For pure abusers, the emphasis should be on effective rehabilitation, not long incarceration.
For pure abusers, the emphasis should be on effective rehabilitation, not long incarceration.PHOTO: ST FILE

I commend the Ministry of Home Affairs' move to amend the law to segregate "pure" drug abusers who only consume drugs from drug abusers who face charges over other offences (Law amended to focus more on rehabilitation of drug abusers; Jan 16).

For pure abusers, the emphasis should be on effective rehabilitation, not long incarceration.

First-time abusers should undergo a rehabilitation programme that is more humane and focused on their treatment.

There should also be a clear distinction between first-time abusers and repeat abusers, whose rehabilitation programme should still be treatment-focused, but also include some punitive measures.

The rehabilitation programme can incorporate elements such as going cold turkey, counselling, yoga and meditation, physical exercise and work therapy.

Pure abusers who wish to pursue a course of study should be encouraged and facilitated by the authorities.

Education would help them find employment upon release, which is an important component of their rehabilitation.

And even if the rehabilitation programme is effective, society still needs to be there to help abusers after their release.

They need love and care from their families and friends, along with understanding employers willing to give them jobs with good enough salaries to support their families.

There is only so much that drug rehabilitation centres and prisons can do.

Society must give them a chance to prove they have reformed. If ex-abusers find society hostile and unforgiving, there is every chance of them returning to their old ways.

Pavithran Vidyadhran

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Help 'pure' drug abusers rehabilitate and reintegrate'. Print Edition | Subscribe