The number of young drug abusers is growing and more needs to be done to tackle the problem, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said yesterday.
Speaking at the annual Anti- Drug Abuse Campaign (ADAC), he revealed there had been a 6 per cent rise in the number of abusers below the age of 30 arrested in the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year.
He said the numbers of this group have been "rising over the past years at a worrying rate", with 1,330 of them recorded last year, the highest figure in a decade.
One reason for the increase is that more young people do not think drugs are harmful or addictive, a misconception that has been reinforced by social media.
"There is also misinformation about drugs, which misleads our youth into believing that drugs like cannabis could be beneficial," he added. "(Drug abuse) is painful and has very real and dire consequences for abusers and their families."
To keep young people away from drugs, parents, teachers and national service (NS) commanders are being roped in to partner agencies such as the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB).
Yesterday, Mr Amrin launched two new anti-drug resources for parents and NS commanders as part of recommendations from the Task Force on Youth and Drugs.
These groups were identified by the task force as "key influencers" in the anti-drug movement.
The Preventive Drug Education Information brochure and the NS Commander Toolkit are available online, in the four main languages.
They contain information on signs of drug abuse, parenting tips and helplines to call for assistance.
From next month, the brochures will be distributed to parents through schools and community partners.
Stressing the importance of community vigilance, Mr Amrin said that parents were surprised to learn that the profile of drug abusers is changing.
"Now, many young cannabis abusers come from households with middle or high socio-economic status, and are doing academically well in school," he said.
He hoped the brochures would encourage parents to speak to their children on the harm caused by drugs before it is too late.
Mr Amrin joined in the first anti-drug themed escape room game, which features four zones that mimic the phases a drug abuser goes through to escape addiction.
This year's campaign also includes a display of message walls with anti-drug pledges from university and polytechnic students.
The ADAC is organised by the CNB and National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) to commemorate World Drug Day today.