SINGAPORE - The proportion of new drug abusers arrested last year remained high and close to two thirds of new abusers were under 30, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) said on Monday (Feb 5).
While the number of drug abusers arrested fell from 3,265 in 2016 to 3,089 last year, about 40 per cent of them were new abusers.
Of the 1,249 new abusers arrested, about 64 per cent were below the age of 30.
These concerning trends were highlighted by the CNB in an overview of the local drug situation.
While there was an overall improvement in the drug situation here, abusers in the 20-29 age group continued to form the largest group in 2017. About 40 per cent of drug abusers arrested last year were under 30.
Overall, the number of repeat abusers arrested decreased by 4 per cent, from 1,917 in 2016 to 1,840 in 2017. The number of new abusers arrested fell by 7 per cent, from 1,348 in 2016 to 1,249 in 2017 .
The total street value of drugs seized last year was estimated at around $6.54 million, down from about $8 million in 2016.
Methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis continued to be the most commonly abused drugs, with 98 per cent of drug abusers arrested having used at least one of the three.
Among new abusers, methamphetamine and cannabis continued to be the most commonly abused drugs.
Last year, to tackle the local drug situation, the CNB joined the Singapore Police Force to conduct 19 islandwide operations targeting traffickers and abusers.
They also partnered with the Immigration Checkpoints Authority in 1,661 operations at land, air, and sea checkpoints to intercept drugs entering Singapore.
In 2017, the CNB also conducted major operations which led to the crippling of 23 drug syndicates.
These efforts came after the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) Youth and Public Perception Survey 2015/2016 found that despite most respondents supporting Singapore's zero-tolerance approach towards drugs, a growing number of young people displayed more liberal attitudes towards them.
The survey also revealed that 58 per cent of young people learnt about drug-related content via social media.
The CNB expanded its social media and youth community outreach efforts through the use of social media platforms to encourage a drug-free lifestyle.
The bureau also used preventive drug toolkits, such as a parents' handbook about drug abuse, and mobile applications to highlight the dangers.
A CNB spokesman said: "New young abusers may form the next generation of drug addicts. That is why preventive drug education remains one of CNB's key drug control strategies."
The CNB also works with community groups to raise awareness about the harmful nature of drugs.