Do more to help recovering female drug addicts: President

President Halimah Yacob and The Turning Point executive director Talia Lee with residents at the all-women halfway house yesterday. Madam Halimah emphasised the importance of early intervention in deterring drug abuse, and also suggested opening anot
President Halimah Yacob and The Turning Point executive director Talia Lee with residents at the all-women halfway house yesterday. Madam Halimah emphasised the importance of early intervention in deterring drug abuse, and also suggested opening another halfway house for women.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Vanessa (not her real name), 26, is a recovering drug addict. After her arrest for consuming Ice, she spent close to a year in prison.

She has spent the last two months at a halfway home for rehabilitation and has another four months more here before release. But Vanessa is already anxious to go home to her six-year-old son.

"He is my biggest motivation to turn my life around and change," she said. "Once I am out, I will work so that he will be proud of me."

Vanessa stays at The Turning Point, Singapore's only all-women residential halfway house that provides rehabilitation services to substance abusers and recovering abusers, aged from their 20s to 60s.

At The Turning Point yesterday, President Halimah Yacob met 13 of the former drug abusers, including Vanessa, and talked to them about their hopes and dreams. She also toured the premises in Jamaica Road in Sembawang.

Emphasising the importance of early intervention, Madam Halimah said she noticed a number of the residents started abusing drugs when they were young teens.

She also noted that most became drug abusers because of their partners, including their husbands in some cases, so more work had to be done to prevent that.

Data from a 2015 qualitative study of 21 female offenders by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) showed almost half of them fell into drug addiction to bolster relationships with their addict-partners with whom they were intimate.

SPS figures on the prison population last year showed that only 12 per cent of the 10,242 prisoners were females - but three-quarters or 76 per cent, of these women were in prison for drug offences.

 
 

To improve the rehabilitation of recovering female drug addicts, Madam Halimah suggested opening another halfway house for women.

She said: "The Turning Point is the only halfway house for women - we do need more. Then we can provide the same kind of high-quality, very intensive rehabilitation programmes for women, substance abusers or ex-drug offenders."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2019, with the headline 'Do more to help recovering female drug addicts: President'. Print Edition | Subscribe