Recent findings by the National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) indicate that out-of-school youths (OCYs) are more susceptible to drug abuse than their school-going peers
NCADA’s Youth Perception Survey 2013, which involved 2,075 youths aged between 13 and 21 from secondary schools, junior colleges, ITEs, polytechnics as well as those out-of-school, has revealed that OSYs are “more likely to describe drugs as a ‘substance to get high’ or as a ‘fun thing’”.
Specifically, while 22% of OSYs respondents believed drugs to be a “fun thing”, this percentage for students from secondary schools, polytechnics, junior colleges and ITEs were 5.6%, 3.3%, 4.5% and 4.7% respectively.
Also, only 5.6% OSYs when asked whether they believe drugs to be an addictive substance, replied in the affirmative. For other categories as mentioned above, these percentages were 25.2%, 26.2%, 23.2% and 25.3%.
Furthermore, the Council claimed, secondary school students and OSYs are least likely to be able to resist peer pressure towards drug taking. Specifically, OSYs scored the lowest mean score (4.85) on a scale of 1 to 6 on whether they are confident of refusing drugs when offered.
Even talking to their parents seems to be least helpful to OSYs in deterring them from taking drugs.
Overall, the survey found an increase in youths who “think it’s impossible to become addicted to drugs like ecstasy”, “don’t think taking drugs harms one’s health”, and who “are open to friends/parents knowing about their drug-taking behaviour”.
The NCADA, which was formed in January 1995 to advise the ministry of home affairs on measures for curbing drug abuse as well as mobilise support for government’s anti-drug programmes, in it’s last annual report published in October 2013 noted that the number of drug abusers below 20 years of age arrested in 2012 was 190. This was 5% of the total abusers arrested across all age groups. Also, among the new abusers arrested, the number for aged below 20 years was 162 in 2012.
Commenting on the drug types being abused, the report noted, “Heroin and methamphetamine remain the two most commonly abused drugs in Singapore. 2,239 heroin abusers (64%) and 1,022 methamphetamine abusers (29%) were arrested in 2012. Together, heroin and methamphetamine abusers make up around 93% of all abusers arrested.”
Enumerating the challenges ahead, NCADA noted the “unfavourable regional drug situation which continues to pose a significant threat to the local drug scene”.
“The pressures exerted by an increase in the supply of drugs will have an impact on the local drug situation. We are also seeing an increase in the number of drug abusers arrested for the last few years, and in particular heroin and methamphetamine abusers. The large number of repeat abusers who will be released from the prisons in the coming years may exert a greater contaminating influence on other abusers and the general population. Lastly, the emergence of new psychoactive substances is a cause for global concern.”