Prevention is best way to curb spread of drug abuse

Prevention is best way to curb spread of drug abuse
PHOTO: Brunei Times/ANN

The global community yesterday observed the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking with health as the ongoing theme, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime website.

Brunei will be marking the international event after the Hari Raya celebrations this year, according to the official of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Despite the belated observance, the NCB will continue with its operations to raise awareness on ill effects of drug use and curb its abuse and trafficking.

Last November, the NCB stressed that prevention is the best way to address and overcome the social issue of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Brunei.

In a previous report, Assistant Director Preventive Drug Education Division, Osmawi Osman, said prevention is a serious business, costly but in the long run saves money, saves lives, resources, families, the community, sustains clients, sustains harmony and security and saves the country.

Calling for greater stress and focus on prevention, he said it is worthy as it will mean lower expenditure on rehabilitation, with the money saved being invested in the development of the country.

"The amount of money we save on rehabilitating drug users as well as savings on losses incurred from crimes, especially those relating to drug abusers, can be used to invest in our next generation and the country's development instead," he said.

He said offenders are mainly struggling with socio-economic problems.

"To say they are not educated may not be valid; our government provides free education, for many usually up till O-level. So, it is mainly related to economic and social problems," he added.

In February this year, the NCB said they apprehended 610 drug abusers and traffickers in 2014.

The 517 men and 93 women apprehended in 2014 represented a 10 per cent decline in the number of arrests made by the NCB compared with the 679 drug offenders caught in 2013.

Out of the 610 arrested, 88 per cent were locals and the rest were foreigners.

The report said despite the decline, anti-drug measures continue to be intensified to ensure that the drug problem in the Sultanate is kept in check.

"The 2014 statistics of arrests have shown that drug abuse in Brunei is still under control and manageable, taking into consideration the fact that on average, for every 100,000 people, 153 are arrested for drug-related offences," it said.

The report added one of the trends in international drug trafficking is using a third country as a transit point, and many countries are encountering this problem.

"Out of this particular concern, the NCB has continued to intensify its efforts at Brunei's legal entry points by permanently stationing its enforcement officers. This initiative had succeeded in detecting and stamping out the smuggling of drugs into the country," it said.

"Over the last two years, with effective enforcement, arrests made at immigration control posts, including Brunei International Airport and the Serasa Ferry Terminal, have increased compared with the previous years," the report added.

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