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A Worrying Increase in Young Drug Users in Singapore

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - 15:42

According to new research conducted and analysed by Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) two thirds of new drug offenders within the region are under the age of 30. [1] Those officials working within what is being referred to as a “rapidly evolving operating environment” are now looking to those members from the younger demographics in order to rid the region of its well-documented drug problems.

When analysed further, the statistics from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) found that not only were two-thirds of new drug abusers arrested were below 30 years old.(a huge increase from 50 per cent in 2013) but the educational profile of those young drug abusers were changing too. More of those individuals arrested on drug related charges are now coming from institutes of higher learning. This is particularly true of users of cannabis: over the past five years, the number of cannabis abusers within Singapore has increased by 50 per cent. In 2013, 184 cannabis users were arrested, and a huge majority of those were under the age of 30.

Future Music Festival Application Rejected

This governmental update on drug use within the country comes at the same time as news is released that the popular Future Music Festival has been denied a licence for the show to be staged again, after six young people died at the festival in Kuala Lumpur last year. [2] The organisers of the festival had applied for a licence to hold the event twice, and their applications had twice been rejected. Finally, their last appeal was rejected, and the 15,000 young people that had already bought tickets to attend the festival are now set to receive a full refund. The line-up of stars that were set to play at the event included Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy and Public Enemy. This high profile application rejection has shown that Singapore is prepared to stand firm against all drug use and maintain its zero policy stance towards drug use across Singapore. Regional syndication means that drug use across Singapore is becoming an increasing concern, with the increase supply that comes with an increase in drug syndicates making drugs cheaper in the area and increasing their availability and the temptation to experiment. [3]

How to Tackle the Problem

In response to the more youthful drug abusing demographic now in place in Singapore, new recommendations on how to more effectively tackle the problem will be rolled out by the government later this year. [4] These recommendations will be based on findings by the Taskforce on Youths and Drugs, and are likely to involve preventive drug education and early specifically targeted intervention for young drug abusers and offenders. There is already a wide range of online support available for drug abusers, [5] ideal for those in a younger and more web savvy demographic. This is a particularly effective treatment method when considered in the context of a society that has seen increasing numbers of drug transactions taking place online. Research carried out by the American Academy of Paediatrics has revealed that schools should not be using random drug tests to catch or deter drug abusers [6] however other measures to intervene within educational organisations before the young people within them are likely to have had any experience or interaction with drugs are likely to be introduced. Early intervention and early education are the best ways to tackle the problem of youth drug abuse. the Taskforce on Youths and Drugs already operate drug education programs within schools across Singapore, and 2015 is likely to see these programs increased and more youth abusers targeted, identified, and in treatment before the end of the year is complete.                                          

Additional Reading

[1] “Two thirds of new drug offenders below 30 in Singapore, minister tells Parliament”, The Malay Mail Online,

[2] “Singapore denies Future Music Festival Asia licence over drug abuse concerns”, The Star Online,

[3] “Worrying trend of more young drug abusers caught: Masagos”,  Channel News Asia,

[4]“Government closely watching evolving drug abuse trends: Masagos”, Today Online,

[5] “Heroin forum”, Drug Abuse,

[6] “Experts caution against random drug testing in schools”, Channel News Asia,

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