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Home Team News Home / News / Creating a Drug-Free World for Youth and the Global Community  
Published: 03 Nov 2017 09:45AM (Singapore)
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Creating a Drug-Free World for Youth and the Global Community
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Reducing drug abuse among young people and achieving a global drug-free society were some of the topics discussed at the second Asia Pacific Forum Against Drugs (APFAD) on 26 October 2017.
 
By Jaiesh Sachi
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Reducing Drug Use Among Youth

For the past 20 years, the Icelandic Centre of Social Research (ICSRA) has worked with the community to encourage youth to spend their time on meaningful activities instead of using drugs. To accomplish this, Icelandic parents are encouraged to spend more time with their children. Icelandic schools also provide more extra-curricular activities to keep students occupied after school.

Mr Jon Sigfusson
Mr Jon Sigfusson, Director of the Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, spoke about Iceland’s successful mobilisation of its community to address youth drug abuse. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

“Rather than just telling them [Icelandic youths] about the negative effects of drugs, we believe in providing young people with nurturing and vibrant environments to ensure that they never feel that they need drugs to have fun,” said Mr Jon Sigfusson, Director of ICSRA.

Iceland’s strategy of involving parents in the fight against drug abuse parallels efforts by Singapore’s National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). According to the 2015/2016 NCADA Youth Perception Survey, over 92% of respondents were deterred from abusing drugs after having a conversation with their parents about drug abuse.

This suggest that parental influence is an effective tool to deter youth drug abuse in Singapore. CNB has thus produced a parents’ handbook in 2017 to help parents broach the topic of drug abuse with their children.

Combating the Normalisation of Drug Culture

Forum participants also learnt about the effects associated with the legalisation of cannabis in Colorado and throughout the US. According to Dr Kevin Sabet, 38, Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, the change has brought about a rise in the number of road accidents as well as related health issues.

Noting how Colorado has become the state with the highest rate of youth cannabis use since legalising recreational marijuana in 2014, Dr Sabet shared that an increasing number of young people were hospitalised for cannabis-related medical emergencies.

Dr Kevin Sabet
Dr Kevin Sabet (centre) speaking about the aftermath of cannabis legalisation in Colorado and the wider US during the APFAD. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

“There are new industries in the US that are producing cannabis products in the form of cookies and candies that make it attractive to children,” said Dr Sabet.

Dr Sabet emphasised that drugs can destroy the lives of youth and adults across all political and socio-economic lines and warned against the increasing normalisation of the drug culture.

“Drugs like cannabis impair concentration and can cause you to drop out of school, work and family commitments. We must continue to turn kids away from drugs and help them whenever they start to show signs of drug addiction,” said Dr Sabet.

APFAD Participants
The APFAD drew together local and foreign delegates from government agencies, non-government organisations and civil society groups. PHOTO: Olivier Lee

In his speech at the APFAD, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law Mr K Shanmugam stressed the need for governments and individuals to share their best strategies for tackling the worldwide drug situation. He also emphasised the need to galvanise public support for the anti-drug cause.

NCADA Chairman Mr Hawazi Daipi expressed similar sentiments, urging the global anti-drug movement to work in tandem and stand together against drug liberalisation.

“We hope that through platforms like APFAD, the unified anti-drug movement… can be resonant enough to counter the pro-drug lobby. The anti-drug community must work together as one to secure a safe drug-free environment for our children,” said Mr Hawazi.

About the APFAD

First held in 2015, the APFAD brings together brought together local and foreign delegates from government agencies, non-government organisations and civil society groups, to network and discuss how to better counter the continuing global calls for drug liberalisation and the lobbying of pro-drug groups.


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