Tue, Apr 27, 2010
The Straits Times
My classmate, the drug abuser

By Eisen Teo

WHILE drug use is a problem among some young people, counsellors are saying that addicts may be getting younger, with some picking up the habit from the age of 12 or 13.

And by the time they are 15, they could even be peddling the deadly substances. These pushers, say counsellors, prey on their schoolmates and rely on a network of acquaintances.

Such "friends" may seem cool, but are really people you need to walk away from.

The Sunday Times, on April 11, highlighted the issue of youths abusing drugs, focusing on those over-18s who get their fix at clubs and house parties.

But counsellors say that schools may not be totally immune to the problem. Dr Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, said: "We used to see a case of a young person abusing drugs once a month. Now, it's at least once a week."

In a week, she handles between 15 to 25 complaints of young people being "beyond parental control".

She added: "As long as there's a need, there will be someone inside schools who takes a commission for passing around drugs."

Hence, while the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) says the drug abuse situation among youths is "stable and well-contained", all it takes is for one young peddler in a school to set many other lives on the path to ruin.

As Mr Dominic Lim, founder of Splat!, a community arts movement serving at-risk youths and former youth offenders, puts it: There's no need for 10 peddlers in one school to create a drug problem.

"You just need one."

Next: Wise up to the consequences >>

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