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     FrontPage Edition: Wed 29 August 2007

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Drug addiction situation in Singapore


Written Answer to Parliamentary Question on drug addiction situation

Written Answer to Parliamentary Question on drug addiction situation
Ms Sylvia Lim:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs whether he will give an update of the drug addiction situation, including the size of the problem, recidivism rate, trends of concern and new strategies being deployed to fight the drug menace.
Mr Wong Kan Seng:
The drug addiction situation in Singapore is under control, even though 999 drug abusers were arrested in the first half of this year, compared to 446 over the same period last year.
Of the total number of abusers arrested, Buprenorphine abusers formed the majority, at 41%, with heroin abusers at 30% and synthetic drug abusers at 25%.
One reason for the increase of 553 abusers is that the Central Narcotics Bureau gazetted Buprenorphine as a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act in August last year.
As with any drug that is newly-gazetted, arrests are likely to be high in the initial period. With sustained enforcement, we can expect the number of Buprenorphine abusers to stabilize and taper off.
Another reason for the increase in drug arrests is that some ex-Buprenorphine users had turned to heroin abuse after Buprenorphine was made a controlled drug. Around half of the heroin abusers arrested in the first half of this year, or 145 offenders, were ex-Buprenorphine users.
An important indicator of the drug addiction trend is the number of new abusers arrested. This fell from 278 in the first half of 2006 to 204 over the same period this year.
Among repeat abusers arrested, more than 60% were prosecuted under the long-term imprisonment (LT) regime. They will be kept away for between 5 and 13 years, thus preventing them from abusing drugs further or contaminating others.
Relapse rate is another important indicator of the drug abuse trend. The LT regime has been effective in deterring recalcitrant abusers from relapsing again into drug abuse.
Over the five-and-a-half year period since the first batch of offenders were released from the LT regime at end 2001, the proportion of persons who underwent LT and relapsed was less than 10%, or in absolute numbers, 336 persons.
The relapse rate in 2006 for those who were released from LT in 2004 and relapsed within two years was very low at 1%. This low relapse has contributed favourably to the overall 2-year relapse rate of drug abusers arrested, which has dropped from over 60% prior to the introduction of the LT regime, to less than 5% in 2006.
Singapore’s integrated multi-pronged anti-drug strategy comprising strict laws, vigorous enforcement, preventive education, rehabilitation and aftercare, as well as the active involvement of the community, has ensured that the local drug situation remains under control.
This approach has achieved positive results and our drug abuse situation compares very well against any other country in the world.

Source: News Release 27 Aug 2007

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