What’s Behind the Increase in Youth Drug Abuse in Singapore?

The rising trend of young drug abusers in Singapore has sparked concern and introspection within the community. This phenomenon was starkly highlighted by the story of Isaac Goh, who, at the tender age of 18, ventured into the perilous world of drug abuse following a seemingly innocuous encounter with a stranger. Offering Isaac a lucrative deal to take “just one puff” of an unknown substance in exchange for purchasing his entire stock of essential oils and aromatherapy diffusers, the stranger introduced Isaac to a path fraught with danger and eventual legal consequences.

Isaac’s initial experimentation with Ice, also known as crystal methamphetamine, marked the beginning of a tumultuous journey through addiction, rehabilitation, and relapse. Despite enduring the hardships of rehabilitation and facing the stark reality of his actions, Isaac found himself ensnared by the allure of drugs once again, leading to a second arrest and an extended period of rehabilitation.

This narrative is reflective of a broader issue in Singapore, where there has been a notable 20% increase in the arrest of new drug abusers under the age of 30, as reported by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). The statistics are alarming, with even teenagers as young as 14 being apprehended for drug abuse. Such developments underscore the urgency of addressing this growing problem and understanding the underlying factors contributing to it.


Curiosity, peer influence, and mental health issues are significant drivers behind the inclination of youth towards drug experimentation. The allure of drugs is often magnified by misinformation and liberal attitudes towards drug use, prevalent on social media and in countries with more lenient drug policies. However, drug abuse is frequently a symptom of deeper issues, including trauma, stress, and the inability to cope with life’s challenges. In Isaac’s case, his struggle with drug abuse was deeply intertwined with familial discord and personal turmoil.

Singapore’s approach to combating this issue involves a multi-faceted strategy that includes preventive drug education, community engagement, and collaboration with various stakeholders. Despite these efforts, the challenge remains daunting, with the CNB emphasizing the need for public support, particularly from parents, in reinforcing the harmful impacts of drug use.

Experts stress the importance of open communication between parents and children regarding drug use, advocating for an informative approach that allows young individuals to make well-informed decisions. Additionally, when suspicion arises regarding a child’s involvement with drugs, a non-confrontational and supportive approach is crucial in encouraging openness and discussion.

Isaac’s journey through addiction, rehabilitation, and recovery underscores the complex nature of drug abuse and the importance of a supportive environment in overcoming addiction. Now employed as a project executive at a social enterprise, Isaac is dedicated to using his experiences to guide and inspire others who may find themselves on a similar path.

As Singapore continues to grapple with the rise in young drug abusers, the collective effort of the government, communities, and families will be pivotal in steering the youth away from the perils of drug abuse and towards a healthier, more fulfilling future. The journey to recovery is arduous and ongoing, but with the right support and intervention, it is possible to redirect lives towards a more positive trajectory.

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Staff Report

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