We’ve come a long way.
Back in the 1970s, young people abusing drugs were seen as a growing problem. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) was set up in 1971 to combat the drug problem. At that time, there was only one government drug treatment centre on St John’s Island, without any halfway house or aftercare facility.
The government then felt it was necessary to get more Singaporeans to participate and complement the service of CNB. SANA was formed on 19 August 1972 with the late Dr Ee Peng Liang as its first president. Prominent civil servants were appointed to form SANA’s first Board of Management.
1840s to 1960s
- Problems with drug abuse existed in Singapore since the 19th century
- Opium smoking was common among the Chinese community
- Total number of Chinese addicts was at 15,000
- There was a strong link between drug addiction and the increases in crime rates
- Opium abuse was officially deemed illegal in Singapore on 1 Feb 1946
1970s to 1980s
- Hippie culture in the 1970s saw youths consuming “hard drugs” such as morphine and cannabis
- Drug addiction affected all races and became a national problem
- Number of heroin addicts increased 200 times from 1973 to 1975
- Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) was set up in 1971 to fight the rise in drug addiction
- SANA was set up in 1972 to complement the work of the CNB. Its main objectives were to educate the public on the dangers of drug abuse and to provide drug addicts with counselling and aftercare services.
1990s to 2000s
- SANA reinvented itself in the 1990s to address new problems arising from an increased pace of city development and modernisation
- The Direct Social Intervention (DSI) programme was started in 1992 to target at-risk school children and youths in certain neighbourhoods
- In 1994, SANA initiated Project SMART (Students Moving on A Right Track) to leverage on the Ministry of Education’s approval to incorporate the anti-drug component in the Sec 1 Science syllabus.
- In 1997, SANA started working closely with grassroots and religious organisations to galvanise community support to assist ex-drug addicts to reintegrate into society.
2001 to 2010
- In 2001 the Case Management Framework (CMF) was introduced. The CMF is a holistic approach in counselling, comprising a 2-month pre-release in-care phase and a 6-month assistance phase following the drug-offender’s release. There is an optional 6 months’ extension.
- In 2012, SANA joined the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Taskforce on Drugs Committee to chart new strategies to deal with the growing threat of drugs in Singapore
- At-risk segments are becoming younger, affluent, and more diverse from social demographic perspectives
- Underlying concerns and fringe issues around drug abuse are more related to social pressures and self-esteem issues
- Increasingly liberal attitudes towards drugs are adopted due to readily available information on the internet
- Government entities are finding it difficult to engage in some of these debates because of the nature of their roles in enforcement
- SANA makes a case to engage these vulnerable and at-risk segments from the perspective of a help facility rather than an enforcer
- SANA rebrands and refreshes its identity to cater to the younger segment