Firstly, becoming rampant and accepted in Singapore. Thus,

Firstly, we are socialized by a variety
of individuals. Parents generally provide long term values, and their use of
alcohol or drugs has the potential to influence their children. May be these
youths see their parents and other adults drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and, sometimes,
trying other substances and they may be

Secondly, peers sometime provide even more powerful
socialization. Peer pressure is a powerful force at any stages in ones’
life, especially for youths. Teenagers is the time when they seek to fit
in their community, find their place in it, and be accepted, therefore being
greatly influenced by the people around them. In today’s context, drugs
are considered normal and acceptable by many teenagers. If the people in their
social group uses drugs, there will be a direct or indirect pressure from them.
Direct pressure is where a
person is offered to try drugs by their own peers. Indirect pressure is when
someone sees everyone around them using drugs and sees nothing wrong with
taking drugs. They might therefore turn to use drugs just to fit in the
social norms.

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Thirdly, according to symbolic interactionism theory, the
perception that taking drugs is “cool” and that it symbolizes one’s maturity is
fast becoming rampant and accepted in Singapore. Thus, the teenagers may just
try it just to be considered “cool” by their own peers.

Fourthly, drugs and alcohol help serve a
certain function. When
youths are unhappy and cannot find a healthy outlet for their frustration or a
trusted confidant, they may turn to substances for solace. Depending on what
substance they are trying, they may feel blissfully oblivious, wonderfully
happy or energized and confident. The often stressful young years can take an emotional toll on the young
ones, sometimes even causing depression, so when these youths are given a
chance to take something to make them feel better, many cannot resist.
For example, some young people abuse prescription medicine to
manage stress or regulate their lives. Sometimes they abuse prescription stimulants (used
to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) to provide additional energy
and the ability to focus when they are studying or taking tests. Others
are abusing prescription pain relievers and tranquilizers to
cope with academic, social or emotional stress.Fifthly, the concept of curiosity is central
to motivation which is a natural part of life and teenagers are not immune to
the urge. Many teens begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol simply because
they are curious and want to know what it feels like. As teenagers, they have
the delusion that they are invincible. Even if they know that drugs are bad,
they don’t believe that anything bad can actually happen to them. Furthermore,
trying drugs provides a common ground for interacting with like-minded teens, a
way to instantly bond with a group of youths.

Lastly, the most avoidable cause of substance use is
inaccurate information about drugs and alcohol. Nearly every young people has friends who claim to be experts on
various recreational substances, and they are happy
to assure him or her that
the risks are minimal. This is supported by a news report where it is reported that youth
thinks cannabis is not addictive, which is a huge misconception. Singapore’s strict
laws have been a constant deterrent for many to think twice before indulging in
drug abuse. Despite the tough laws regarding drug abuse and trafficking in
Singapore, this social problem remains very real and available as illustrated
by the numerous drug raids carried out each year. Singapore’s proximity to
drug-producing areas continues to pose a significant threat to our society.
Furthermore Singapore, being such an open and well-connected country, is not
immune to external influence and the worldwide movement for the legalisation
and decriminalisation of cannabis. Singaporeans may become more accepting of
drugs as a lifestyle choice. Drugs being abused are beyond just the usual
heroin and cannabis, but also street drugs like “Ecstasy”, “Ice” etc., which
have also become increasingly available on the streets. As such, I propose a more integrated approach to deal with the drug problem. This
includes firstly, a preventive drug education. Secondly, a rigorous
enforcement. And lastly, a robust treatment and rehabilitation for addicts, and
aftercare and continued rehabilitation for ex-addicts to reintegrate them into

Firstly, I would like to propose a structured preventive
drug education programme to create an informed community. Where there is
awareness of the danger of drugs, the community can help to achieve a drug-free
Singapore. Drug prevention
programs, whether instituted by schools, community groups, or government
agencies should include a close look at each type of drug use independently, to
determine the biggest problems in the community. Consistently educating youths about the drugs they are
facing in real life is the first step toward protecting them from abuse.
As with other undesirable behaviours, changes to the way youths view drugs are
most effective when intervention occurs at a young age. As drugs such as
cannabis are now marketed as “cool” lifestyle drugs in some countries, it is
important that we can reach out to our community especially the youths to
dispel myths about drugs, and convince them that taking drugs is harmful, is
“not cool”, damages their mind and body, and inflicts pain and suffering on
people whom they love. Educators and youth counsellors are vital partners in
guiding our youths towards making the right decisions and leading a drug-free,
healthy lifestyle. They have an important role to play in engaging youths and
keeping them away from drugs. The preventive drug education is to empower
our youths with the knowledge of commonly abused drugs and prevent them from
falling prey to drug abuse. Topics like general information on drugs, contacts
and helplines, rehabilitation framework for youths, helping youths stay
drug-free and legislation can be included in this education programme. We can
seek support from schools to extend the outreach to students and
youths, given the primary role of schools and educators in moulding the lives
of youths and children. The outreach can come in the form of assembly talks,
static exhibition, sharing session or talk for parents.

Secondly, Singapore could further enhance their
mission to achieve a drug-free Singapore by committing to a rigorous, sustained
and effective enforcement of the law against drug abusers and drug
traffickers. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) can collaborate with Singapore Home Team,
as well as local and international partners, to stem the flow of drugs into and
within Singapore.

Lastly, Singapore can support programmes designed
to treat and rehabilitate drug addicts and provide them ongoing aftercare and
rehabilitation so that they may reintegrate into society. Mental
illness and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand. Those with a mental illness
may turn to drugs as a way to ease the pain. Those suffering from some form of
mental illness, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
should seek the help of a trained professional for treatment before it leads to
substance abuse. We can work actively with the local community to garner strong societal
support to create a drug-free Singapore. We can also work with like-minded
international partners to uphold the international space for a zero tolerance
approach to drug abuse.

In conclusion, it is evident that Singapore
is facing a new generation of drug
abusers who are younger, better educated and more susceptible to messages that
drugs are not all bad. We have also identified that the contributing factors to
this trend are both sociological and psychological.  In addition to the
above proposed integrated approach to solve the drug problem, Singapore can
also learn and adopt the Icelandic model. The model is based on research,
followed by a combination of connecting with youth and encouraging them to have
a healthy lifestyle, involving parents in their children’s lives, and changing
laws affecting teens. First, it ensures that those who work with youth have up-to-date data on
youth trends, collected via regular well-being surveys. Second, parents were urged to spend more
time with their children. With
the government and municipalities reminding parents of the role they can play,
asking them to ensure teenagers are home early, change started within families. Third, youth are encouraged to take up
organised activities. Fourth,
changes in legislation have helped to support these moves. Youth below 18 and
20 can no longer buy tobacco and alcohol respectively. Those aged between 13
and 16 cannot be outdoors after 10pm in winter, and midnight in summer.


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