THE growing problem of drug use among Singapore youth is of such concern that a multi-agency task force is being formed to tackle the issue head on.
It will look at how to deal with the drug threat among students, full-time national servicemen and young adults in their 20s, and will consider measures ranging from preventive education to detection, enforcement, counselling and rehabilitation.
This was revealed yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who will co-chair the task force.
Mr Masagos said there were several trends that are particularly worrying. Young abusers tend to use cannabis, methamphetamine, or New Psychoactive Substances - mistakenly thinking these drugs are less harmful and addictive than "traditional" drugs such as opium or heroin.
The trend has been made worse by the legalisation of some of these drugs, such as cannabis or marijuana, overseas. Just this week, Oregon and Alaska in the United States became the latest states to legalise its recreational use.
"Second, we are concerned with increasingly liberal attitudes towards drugs," said Mr Masagos.
While most people hold a negative attitude towards drug abuse, a greater proportion of those aged 17 to 21 are more likely to think that "it's all right to try drugs for a new experience".
This is according to a National Council Against Drug Abuse survey conducted last year.
"Popular movies and TV normalise drug use while various online sites, forums and social media advocate the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use," said Mr Masagos.
The Central Narcotics Bureau has also recently detected clusters of young drug abusers, who tend to be classmates or who may have got to know each other through other activities, Mr Masagos said.
The number of drug abusers arrested has been rising since 2006. Last year, there was a 2 per cent increase from 2012. But the numbers are far more alarming when it comes to young people.