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In the society that we live in today, there’s a stigma that when you are a drug addict you are already a bad person. But what we fail to realize is the fact that there could be several reasons why a person has become an addict. This also should not hinder us from helping them. In Malaysia, their government has decided to decriminalize drug addicts. Drug addicts should no longer be seen as criminals but as patients who need to be treated and rehabilitated.

The time has also come for the government to set up a national advisory council to review the existing drug policies and bring about necessary reforms and changes in order to make them more relevant. Once it is set up, the council should do a thorough analysis of the failure of various programs and initiatives to tackle the issue that had always focused on arresting and punishing drug addicts all these years. To do this, it would need support and input from the relevant experts and stakeholders.

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The council should also study new issues including the influx of new synthetic drugs and find ways to tackle them, as syndicates and drug pushers are now targeting the young generation including students.

It was reported that both ministries would also cooperate in a “harm-reduction” programme through therapy and joint management of dual diagnosis cases by the Narcotics Addiction Rehabilitation Centre (Puspen) in Tampoi and Permai Hospital in Johor. This could help reduce the number of prisoners since most of the 70,000 convicts in Malaysia are drug addicts.

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