SINGAPORE - Vanessa (not her real name) is a recovering drug addict.
After she was arrested for consuming Ice, the 26-year-old 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.
"I have not seen him for more than a year. My world came crashing down when I was sent to prison and separated from my 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 which provides rehabilitation services to substance abusers and ex-offenders recovering from drug abuse.
The age of residents range from those in their 20s to 60s.
On Friday (Oct 11), President Halimah Yacob met 13 of the former drug abusers, including Vanessa, at The Turning Point and talked to them about their hopes and dreams. The President also toured the premises, located in Jamaica Road in Sembawang.
Emphasising the importance of early intervention against drug abuse, Madam Halimah said: "I notice that a number of the female residents here have gotten into drug abuse at a very young age, when they were young teens."
She added: "We need to think of how to do more upstream work to prevent them from getting into drug abuse."
Madam Halimah said most of the residents became drug abusers because of their partners, boyfriends and, in some cases, husbands, 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 that almost half of them fell into drug addiction to bolster their relationships with their addict-partners with whom they were intimate.
SPS figures on the prison population in 2018 have also shown that most female prisoners were convicted of drug offences. Only 12 per cent of the 10,242 prisoners in 2018 were females but three-quarters or 76 per cent of these women were in prison for drug offences.
To improve rehabilitation of recovering female drug addicts, President 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."