Struggling with stigma, stress: Ex-drug offender finds hope at new centre for recovering addicts

5 days ago 31

SINGAPORE - Former drug abuser, Mr Henry, felt lost and struggled with everyday tasks, such as settling his meals and bills, after his release from the Drug Rehabilitation Centre.

"When we were in (the rehabilitation centre), we actively wanted to come out, to start a new life. But after being released, the struggle was real. Even simple things like choosing what to eat, settling bills and reinstating a phone line can be very stressful," said Mr Henry, who received an eight-month sentence in 2019.

"I wouldn't deny that there is (a temptation to go back to drugs). I believe a lot of people relapse because of the stress level, how the community looks at us and the stigma," he added.

Mr Henry was able to turn his back on drugs and regain his footing in life after he joined a support group at [email protected], a centre for recovering drug addicts operated by voluntary organisation Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana).

The centre in Woodlands, which has been in operation since July 2020, was launched on Saturday.

Speaking to the media at a briefing session on Wednesday (May 11) ahead of the launch, Mr Henry, who is in his 30s, said he joined the support programme in July 2020.

Over about 10 support sessions, recovering drug addicts were able to share their struggles and seek solace in one another.

The sessions were conducted virtually then due to Covid-19 restrictions and were facilitated by Sana and Path I Choose, a grassroots initiative under the Yellow Ribbon Community Project. The Yellow Ribbon links trained grassroots volunteers with families of newly incarcerated offenders to offer them support and assistance.

Said Mr Henry: "I realised that I'm not the only one facing the same issues. That really helps a lot, knowing there are other people who are also going through the same thing as me. We learn from one another."

Through the programme, Mr Henry was encouraged to pick up a hobby to prevent a relapse. As he enjoys singin...

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