Nov 27, 2006
Not heroin, so not harmful? That's warped logic
By Yusuf Abdol Hamid
DRUG abuse has traditionally been associated with the riff-raff of society.
Their poison of choice was primarily heroin, whose predecessor opium almost
destroyed entire generations in 19th century Asia.
Heroin has a reputation of being a 'hard drug' which ruins lives and earns its abusers long prison terms, and even the death sentence.
With Singapore's focused fight against the malaise, it comes as no surprise that there has been a steady decline in the number of heroin abusers.
Ironically, this has led to the impression among youths that drugs such as Ecstasy, ketamine and Ice are not dangerous. These drugs are not heroin, after all.
As a result, young people who take these 'party' drugs are often in denial of their addictions.
And the ease with which they obtain these substances puts a question mark over our supposedly tight border security.
They claim to smuggle them in from Malaysia, or purchase them in clandestine deals in alleyways and void decks.
So we should not be misled into thinking that the fight against drugs has been won.
A few battles may have gone our way, but the war is still as intense as ever.
Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng hit the nail on the head recently when he expressed his concern over the rise in the use of synthetic drugs.
Last year, 629 arrests were made in relation to synthetic drug use. The figure was almost 10 times the number of heroin abusers caught in the same period.
Some time ago, I was taken aback when a polytechnic classmate asked me over lunch: 'What happened just now during the lecture?'
Having seen her sitting directly in front of me in class, I thought that she was joking.
The sad truth is that she was high on a depressant known as '5', warping her sense of time and giving her no recollection of the entire lecture.
It will take a huge effort, larger in scale than the campaign to counter heroin addiction in the 1970s, to rein in the ever-increasing abuse of synthetic drugs today.
The current anti-drug abuse campaigns are too general in scope and should instead focus more on the danger of synthetic drugs, since they are now much more widely abused than heroin.
Some youths, I am told, are blissfully unaware of the dangers of synthetic drugs - just like marijuana smokers who consistently reject the notion that cannabis contains high levels of cancer-causing carcinogens.
An acquaintance once related to me how he managed to muster the will to quit his dependency on Ice only after attending the funeral of a friend who had died from an overdose.
I hope it will not take more such stories to shake other abusers out of
Fact 2 - Alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than cannabis.
Fact 3 - Cigarettes and alcohol are more dangerous than Ecstasy, LSD and cannabis. Click here to see.
Why then is alcohol and cigarettes legal in Singapore, when cannabis and Ecstasy are not?
Aiyah, I'm tired, so I leave it to you guys to discuss. Anyway, I mostly drink plain water and fruit juice, and I hardly ever even take a Panadol. The first and last cigarette I ever smoked was when I was eight (and I'm still angry with my grandmother for making me try that).
Technorati: Singapore; drugs; health.