Forum: Rising scourge of addictions linked to mental health issues

Drug addictions are an extension of the growing trend of stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and mental health problems across all ages.
Drug addictions are an extension of the growing trend of stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and mental health problems across all ages.PHOTO: ST FILE

The recent report on a Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) drug raid that involved a teenager among those arrested shows how fragile the situation is in Singapore in terms of the drug menace, and how vulnerable our young people are (15-year-old boy arrested for peddling Ice to girl, 14, Nov 23).

No number of CNB raids can help reduce the drug-trafficking threat in Singapore. We need a new "total anti-substance" approach to address not just the drug threat, but other types of substance abuse too, for example, alcohol and glue-sniffing.

These addictions are an extension of the growing trend of stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and mental health problems across all ages, and recognise that resorting to substance abuse has become an increasingly common coping strategy among the vulnerable.

A total anti-substance approach should not just have aggressive education outreach programmes for parents and children, but also an initiative to help erase the stigma and discrimination in society against drug addicts, alcoholics and those with mental health challenges.

There should also be a stepping-up of rehabilitation efforts.

We need advertisements to link mental health issues to substance abuse and to get this message into all living rooms during prime-time TV broadcasts, as well as on social media.

This could encourage all those affected to step forward openly and willingly to get the medical assistance that they need.

Frank Singam