S'pore must step up battle on drug abuse as neighbouring countries soften stance

The pressure will be on Singapore as Thailand and Malaysia plan to decriminalise drug addiction (Malaysia to decriminalise drug addiction in landmark move, June 29).

Indonesia also faces difficulty in containing the problem.

Unless Singapore has dedicated facilities to check incoming passengers and tourists at our land, sea and air entry points for drug abuse, it is going to be difficult to arrest the growing drug threat.

And with such "accommodating" neighbours, we may see addicted Singaporeans going to these countries to get their drug fixes.

Drug syndicates from the region may also be enticed to come here to ply their trade.

That is why Singapore needs to ramp up its anti-drug efforts.

The authorities need to make a stronger push on education and outreach, and get into every living room, and in a sustained manner, to drive home the impact that drug abuse has on individuals and families.

We need to provide therapy/rehabilitation clinics around the island to encourage drug addicts (and even alcoholics and gamblers) to seek treatment.

We need to enhance addiction counselling and in-care and after-care services in prisons, halfway houses, the Institute of Mental Health and the National Addictions Management Service to help addicts and recovering addicts.

We also need to help Singaporeans understand that addiction is as much a disease that needs treatment as diabetes.

And the authorities need to change their strategies quickly to contain the problem.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore must step up battle on drug abuse as neighbouring countries soften stance'. Print Edition | Subscribe