Singapore

33% of the youth here think cannabis is ‘not addictive’

Changing attitude of young people towards cannabis could spawn the next generation of abusers


As some nations decriminalise cannabis - and some of its supporters extol its virtues - a growing number of the youth here are also displaying a more laid-back attitude towards the drug.

About a third of them - 33 per cent - do not think it is addictive.

Even more of them - 35 per cent - think it is popular.

Roughly one in eight - 12.6 per cent - feel it should be legalised.

The shifting attitudes towards drugs in general were highlighted in a survey by the National Council Against Drugs (NCADA) released yesterday.

The trend worried some experts who felt that, if left unchecked, this could spawn the next generation of drug abusers.

"This means drugs among young people are beginning to be viewed as acceptable and fun, there is no notion of the risks and danger," said addiction specialist Thomas Lee of The Resilienz Clinic.

"Being young, they are also more likely to experiment and might get into drug abusing habits," he added.

Overall, teenagers and young people here are still strongly against drugs, but the survey showed that attitudes were softening.

The NCADA Perception Survey 2015/2016 showed that 16 per cent of those aged 13 to 21 had a liberal attitude to drugs last year, compared with 11 per cent in 2013.

The survey by NCADA, an advisory council to the Ministry of Home Affairs, polled 2,748 young people aged 13 to 30 and 1,212 members of public aged 31 to 60.

Overall, 81 per cent of those surveyed viewed drugs in a negative light.

But the older youth - those between 18 and 30 comprising of full-time national servicemen, university students and young working adults - displayed more liberal attitudes towards drugs.

Statistics have shown that most new abusers are below 30 years old. Some could have been swayed by popular culture in how they view drugs, especially cannabis.

This became apparent when some of those who had tended to be liberal towards cannabis were probed further during in-depth interviews and displayed confusion about it.

NCADA said this stemmed from online sources which suggested that cannabis had medicinal values.

Youth formed their perceptions on drugs based on what they consumed in the media, the survey found.

Some 68.4 per cent said they had gleaned information about drugs from mass media like newspapers and radio, while 58 per cent had got it from social media like Facebook.

Slightly less of them got their information from websites or preventive drug education efforts.

NCADA chairman Hawazi Daipi cautioned against promoting the softening global attitudes towards drugs.

"We should avoid dichotomising soft drugs and hard drugs because soft drugs consumption can lead to hard drug addiction."

He added: "Parents and the public should be aware that the growing number of (drug abuse) victims are young people."

drugsSingaporeYouth