Drug abuse is not without victims: K Shanmugam

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice K Shanmugam stressed that drug abuse is not victimless: not only do drug addicts and their families suffer, but the community also suffers.

In his speech at the inaugural ceremony to celebrate the Drug Victims’ Remembrance Day, held at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on May 17, Mr Shanmugam said drug addicts themselves become victims as their physical and mental health suffers due to addiction.

Loved ones of abusers also suffer silently and invisibly as they take on the burden of caring for the abuser and sometimes neglected children and dependents, he added.

“They also bear the emotional, financial and physical consequences resulting from a family member’s dependence.”

Mr Shanmugam noted that the community as a whole is also suffering. They could be targets of crime because people need to commit crimes to feed their addiction. They could be targets of the violence that addicts often display when under the influence of drugs.

“Even if you don’t come into contact (with drug addicts), you are also a victim, because drug addicts and drug abuse increase health care costs, and everyone pays the price.”

Mr Shanmugam said the event aimed to highlight the harm caused by drugs and bring the issue to the forefront of society’s consciousness.

He praised those who have overcome drug addiction for their efforts and struggles to overcome their addiction.

During the ceremony, Mr Shanmugam led guests in lighting LED candles against a wall and observing a minute’s silence to remember the lives lost to drug addiction.

Each candle represented 1,000 lives lost. According to the World Health Organization, 600,000 people died worldwide in 2019 due to drug addiction.

The exhibition will visit eight sites in the heartland over the next eight weeks

Bags of cannabis, locked in ventilated containers guarded by Central Narcotics Bureau agents, were put on display for visitors to identify and sniff the contents.

The event included an immersive exhibit where visitors could view a life-size model of a house depicting a family struggling with drug addiction through objects scattered on the floor and furniture.

There was a sensory drug exhibit showcasing ways to identify different drugs and combat evolving methods of concealment. Visitors could smell real packets of cannabis on site.

The digital storyboards also told real-life stories about the consequences of drug use, drawn from news reports and Central Narcotics Bureau files.

From May 24 to July 21, a smaller version of the exhibition will visit eight locations in the heart of Singapore.

Drug Victims Remembrance Day will be observed on the third Friday of May each year.

Image sources: The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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