Tackling drug abuse on multiple fronts

Drug abuse is a complex, multifaceted problem. Given that drug abusers come from different social backgrounds, we work on multiple fronts and with multiple partners to effectively tackle this issue (Govt link in drug rehab may undermine success by Mr Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam; Forum Online, March 28).

Our national strategy is based on a comprehensive approach of upstream preventive drug education, tough laws and enforcement, and community partnership to ensure effective rehabilitation and aftercare.

First- and second-time abusers undergo treatment and rehabilitation in our drug rehabilitation centres (DRCs). Their time in the DRCs does not constitute a criminal record. The DRCs provide a structured environment where abusers are counselled and equipped with life skills to cope with potential stressors and triggers which may lead to drug abuse.

Their rehabilitation is tailored to their risk profiles, which are assessed by psychologists after taking into account factors such as criminal and drug abuse history, family support and antisocial peer associations.

We work closely with community partners to help former drug abusers reintegrate into society. The aftercare sector involves many partners, each contributing to different areas in offender rehabilitation and reintegration, including family programmes, capability building, employment and education support.

The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana), a voluntary welfare organisation, is one such partner. The Sana Step-Up Centre, which opened in January 2015, serves as a one-stop centre to support former abusers and their families in their reintegration journey.

Every year, more than 300 walk-in clients seek help there. So far, more than 800 former abusers and their families have benefited from the centre.

There are also efforts to address the negative effects of parental incarceration. For example, in 2015, the Singapore Prison Service worked with Mendaki to provide an information and referral service for families of offenders with schoolgoing children.

The families are referred to community resources such as counselling at Family Service Centres or employment assistance at the Community Development Centres. Additional support is given to the children to ensure they remain actively involved in school.

Drugs have a devastating impact on individuals, families and society. Apart from the efforts of the Government and the community, the abusers themselves must take charge of their rehabilitation journey and resolve to stay away from drugs.

Sng Chern Hong

Director, Communications

Central Narcotics Bureau

Jimmy Lee

Director, Corporate Communications and Relations

Singapore Prison Service