Although drugs may appear to be glamorous and cool in your favourite TV shows, the reality of drug abuse is far from pretty. The consequences of drug abuse can be far-reaching and believe it or not, extend beyond just the individual’s health and well-being.
By learning more about the reasons why youths tend to abuse drugs and the lasting impacts of it, we can all work together to encourage others to lead a more positive and drug-free lifestyle or direct them in the right direction.
DID YOU KNOW?
There is an alarming trend of young people engaging in drug abuse.
According to Central Narcotics Bureau’s (CNB) latest annual statistics report, 50% of new drug abusers arrested in 2022 were under 30 years old. Drug abuse among youths is a severe issue that must be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many youths have been seen adopting permissive attitudes towards drugs as they do not believe that drugs can pose a threat to them.
However, this is not true. Many recent articles demonstrate how abusing drugs will cause immense harm to the health and well-being of individuals, their families, and, ultimately, society. In extreme cases, using drugs can even cause one’s death.
A recent example of how abusing drugs can affect society happened in 2022. A Singaporean man was detained by the police on charges of criminal intimidation and possession of an offensive weapon, as reported by Channel News Asia. After voluntarily causing hurt to bystanders, the police searched his house.
In addition to the man’s record of substance use disorder, the police found two packets of yellow pills which suggested the possibility that the man was likely under the influence of drugs at the time of incident, which led to him causing a nuisance and endangering the safety of the public.
Earlier this year, during preliminary investigations by CNB, it was also found that another Singaporean man, who held a woman hostage at knifepoint, had tested positive for controlled drugs.
These are just a few of the many instances that we see in our daily life to prove that the drug threat is real.
WHY DO YOUTHS ABUSE DRUGS?
Among youths, the most frequently cited motives for experimenting or using drugs are curiosity, peer pressure, and boredom.
The glorification of drugs in popular culture and international media has led to the dissemination of misinformation on the internet. But more so, the ease of obtaining drugs online nowadays has also increased the likelihood of drugs infiltrating our daily lives and living environment.
Some may mistakenly believe that drugs will provide an escape from problems at home, school, or work. The reality is that drug use can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction and significantly increase the likelihood of developing major health problems.
IMPACTS OF DRUGS
Drug abuse can impact someone on an individual, family, and societal level.
Drug abuse can have serious and lasting effects on an individual’s health, with the potential to cause lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, and even mental disorder such as schizophrenia.
The abuse of Cannabis, for example, can lead to paranoia and psychosis, as well as impair one’s brain development and motor skills, interfering with our ability to perform day-to-day activities. Meanwhile, Methamphetamine, also known as Ice, can cause permanent damage to blood vessels in the heart, brain, liver, kidney, and lungs. Other drugs, such as New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), can be just as addictive and harmful, causing severe toxic reactions and hallucinations that can lead to violent and aggressive behaviour.
Addiction to drugs can be all-consuming, with the abuser’s life revolving around finding ways to obtain drugs. This addiction can spill over into their work and personal life, making it a challenge to focus on tasks. In addition, they may run into financial woes, resorting to extreme measures such as gambling, stealing, or harming others to finance their drug addiction.
The effects of drug abuse can be devastating, not only affecting the user but also the user’s family. There have been reports documenting how drug-related issues in households can cause families to break down. Domestic violence can be one of the repercussions of drug addiction, as those who abuse drugs may act aggressively toward their family members due to a loss of rationality.
Children who are exposed to drug-related risk behaviors at a young age may suffer emotional wounds that can persist throughout their lifetime. Furthermore, they may begin abusing drugs themselves, making them innocent victims who experience the aftermath of drug abuse.
Last but not least, the effects of drugs can severely distort one’s sense of reality and impairs one’s judgment, which increases the risk of accidents occurring. Methamphetamine, for instance, can cause reckless driving, while Cannabis can decrease coordination and reaction time in drivers. This not only endangers the driver’s life but also that of the passengers and others sharing the road.
In 2022, a man was charged with causing alarm and harm for a bomb scare on a Singapore Airlines flight and subsequently tested positive for controlled drugs. The impact of drug abuse on society is substantial, as it jeopardises public safety by increasing the occurrence of drug-related crimes and accidents.
Preventing such incidents is important for Singapore’s survival, as the well-being of its people is vital to the nation’s success. Therefore, we must remain vigilant and prevent drugs from gaining a foothold in our society, especially among our youths.
WHAT CAN YOUTHS DO?
Youths play a vital role in advocating for a drug-free lifestyle, whether it involves encouraging family and friends to make healthier choices or supporting those in recovery. By sharing credible information and resources with our peers, we can dispel common misconceptions about drugs.
Our talents, creativity, and networks can also be utilised to raise awareness about the harmful effects of drugs. Most importantly, we can lead by example, simply by living a drug-free lifestyle.
If you are passionate about the anti-drug cause and wish to be a part of the DrugFreeSG movement, visit the Central Narcotics Bureau website or follow @CNB.drugfreesg on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to learn how you can become an Anti-Drug advocate and inspire your community to join the fight against drugs.
This article is part of an industry project for module S341 – Youth Health in collaboration with the Central Narcotics Bureau for Anti-Drug Competition 2022.