Sana seeks $1m to help drug addicts and family

Press conference on the The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (SANA) 40th anniversary and interview with the SANA's executive director - Mr Lim Poh Quee.

A 24-hour hotline and a drop-in centre for drug addicts to help them fight their urges.

Those are some plans the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) hopes to roll out in the near future, even as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Sana also hopes to launch a programme to provide skills training to the family members of addicts, to help them better provide for themselves.

In a media interview yesterday, Sana's executive director, Mr Lim Poh Quee, noted that many drug addicts have compelling reasons for turning to drugs, and even those who have kicked the habit have a lifelong battle to fight. He cited the case of a man who turned to drugs at the age of 20 to seek comfort from the trauma of seeing his father commit suicide when he was five years old.

Mr Lim said: "Rehabilitation is not just about counselling the drug addicts and reaching out to create rapport with them...but also about addressing the root cause of their turning to drugs."

He added that with about 1,000 long-term drug offenders being released from prison annually over the next three years, Sana's programmes will go a long way towards helping with their rehabilitation and minimising the drug problem in society.

Sana sees about 600 drug-addiction cases each year, and its rehabilitation success rate has increased from 40 per cent in 2010 to 64 per cent last year.

This year, some 86 per cent of the cases it has seen thus far have been rehabilitated successfully.

The voluntary welfare organisation is seeking about S$1 million in funds to set up the 24-hour hotline and drop-in centre, which will cater specifically to recovering addicts. There, they will be able to stay overnight in the company of counsellors and seek support until their drug urges pass.

Another S$30,000 has been budgeted to help the spouses and parents of recovering addicts pick up new skills or upgrade existing ones to earn additional income. This is to decrease the financial burden on the recovering addicts' shoulders.

With greater family support, Sana expects its efforts to help prevent the children of drug offenders from following in their parents' footsteps.

Mr Lim noted that the number of drug offenders arrested has dropped from 1,756 in the first half of last year to 1,712 in the same period this year.

But he said that there is a recent trend of younger, well-off and well-educated people - including professionals - turning to drugs.

Many of these addicts turn to drugs because of boredom and stress, he noted.

Specifically, these addicts are turning to synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and ketamine, which come in the form of tablets and are easier to carry around undetected.

"Economic, social and education backgrounds do not seem to be a barrier to drug-taking any more...and it seems to be a problem unique to Singapore," said Mr Lim.


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