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 work 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 recovering persons with counselling and aftercare services.
  • The Anti-drug & Inhalant Abuse Badge Scheme (later renamed SANA Badge Scheme) was introduced in 1977. It is a motivational workshop for secondary school students from the Uniform Groups. Students learn about the consequences of drug abuse. The workshop also aims to strengthen the resilience of youths through character building. The programme features presentations, videos and role-play.
  • SANA Drug Abuse Prevention Committees (DAPC) were set up in 1979 to help eradicate the drug menace at the constituency level. They comprised grassroots leaders and volunteers, grouped into clusters for increased efficiency through shared resources and manpower and to give more bite to their preventive drug outreach efforts on the ground.

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 RightTrack) 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 2014

  • 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 aftercare phase following the inmate’s release. There is an optional 6 months’ extension.
  • In 2011, SANA introduced the Gotong-Royong Programme (a flagship of the Post Aftercare Department), which builds bonding and trust among recovering persons and their families through thoughtful activities and supports reintegration.
  • 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
  • 2012 saw the formation of Religious Group of Volunteers (RGVs) who offer spiritual and religious counselling and guidance to inmates. The RGVs is the result of a restructure of the Religious Affiliates, in order to meet the requirements of the Charities Regulations 2007.

2015 to Today

  • In February 2015, the Case Management Services (CMS) programme, an enhancement of the Case Management Framework (CMF) was introduced. SANA counsels and provides case management to inmates prior to and during their emplacement on Community Based Programmes (CBP) or Release to the Community. Clients receive 6 to 12 months of rehabilitative programme (aftercare) upon release based on a framework seeking to build supports in the community in order to assist in their reintegration back to society. Of the many factors, family support is key to their reintegration.
  • In June 2015, SANA was appointed managing agent for the Yellow Ribbon Community Project (YRCP) and works closely with Singapore Prison Service (SPS) and grassroots divisions to ensure smooth coordination of the project. YRCP acts a bridge between the inmate and his family. Volunteers from grassroots organisations visit families to offer support and help link them with agencies for assistance.
  • July 2016 saw the official launch of the SANA Step-Up Centre, a walk-in facility to support and assist recovering persons and their families on their immediate needs and to provide assistance in other ways crucial for recovering persons to re-integrate into society. The Centre also offers support networks through programmes and services. Key assistance includes Financial Aid, Support Groups, Job Assistance, Skills Upgrading and Family Engagement activities.
  • In March 2017, SANA officially rebrands and refreshes its identity to cater to the younger segment. The re-positioning comes with a new brand identity for SANA – a new logo marking a new phase in the Association’s engagement with at-risk youths and recovering persons. Key reasons behind the branding:

    • 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

  • In 2018, SANA was accorded Special Consultative Status as a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This allows SANA to participate in and influence international discussions on drug matters that take place at the UN level.
  • Following on the success of its first Step-Up Centre, SANA opened its second centre at Taman Jurong in July 2019 to provide reintegration programmes and services to persons in recovery and their families living in the West. This marked the Association’s concerted efforts to reach out to recovering drug abusers and their families in the community who may be affected by drug abuse.
  • In September 2019, SANA started providing counselling and case management services for first time drug offenders placed under compulsory supervision by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB). Under the programme, clients will receive up to 6 months of community-based counselling support and psycho-education on the negative influence of drugs.