How do young people view drugs and what does it mean for Singapore?

PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG, REUTERS, ST FILE, ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

Drugs are now easily available and lifestyles are increasingly being shaped by media sources and celebrities with liberal drug views. The Straits Times examines how young people perceive drugs and why it poses a risk for the next generation.

Work needed to prevent the young from becoming next generation of drug abusers: Faishal

Fewer drug addicts were arrested last year, but the authorities are concerned that 60 per cent of new abusers nabbed were aged 30 and under, a group that they say holds liberal drug views. 

If nothing is done to address this and other challenges, there is a real risk of young people becoming the next generation of drug abusers, Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim has warned. 

“It is worrying that young people are adopting more liberal attitudes towards drugs,” he said, citing a survey conducted in 2020 by the National Council Against Drug Abuse.

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S'pore youth more likely to perceive cannabis as not harmful

Younger Singaporeans are more likely to perceive cannabis or weed as not harmful and to have considered using controlled substances or prescription drugs without a prescription than their elders.

According to a survey of 1,055 Singapore residents by public opinion company YouGov done in collaboration with The Straits Times, people aged between 18 and 24 are also more likely to have their views on drugs shaped by social media and pop culture than their elders.

The survey, which was done using a demographically representative sample of Singapore's population, showed that 26 per cent of Singaporeans aged between 18 and 24 perceived cannabis to be not harmful or not very harmful.

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Former user recalls secret drug parties held in S'pore hotel rooms

Nights carefully planned through quickly deleted chats on the messaging app Telegram and hosted in hotel rooms with close circles of friends, or spontaneous meetings at people’s homes, often in private estates. These were the places where underground drug activities took place, a former user told The Sunday Times. 

Adam (not his real name), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “People think drugs are very hard to get in Singapore, but actually before the pandemic they were everywhere, and even now there are people selling them.”

The parties were often organised by children of wealthy families, including expatriates. They are young and loaded –  slang for rich and also for being under the influence of drugs.

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'Everyone I knew in school was smoking weed,' says Singaporean overseas student

SPH Brightcove Video
"John" is a former cannabis abuser who started smoking at age 17. He was caught in possession of drugs and sentenced to prison. He tells The Straits Times about his path into drugs and the effect prison had on him.

When he was a 17-year-old, he was given a "chance of a lifetime" when he followed his parents to southern Europe and enrolled as a student there.

John (not his real name) thought he was was going to go far and climb high up the education ladder.

But the Singaporean's search for cool friends and new adventures plunged him deep into the world of cannabis, the 35-year-old recently told The Sunday Times.

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