Associate Professor Daniel Fung,
Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Mental Health,
Adjunct Associate Professor Lee Cheng,
Programme Director, National Addictions Management Service,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you at this year’s National Addictions Awareness Day.
2. In Singapore, drug and alcohol abuse remain the top two most common addictions, with over a thousand new cases diagnosed annually. The National Addictions Management Service (NAMS) has played an important role in supporting the recovery of patients who struggle with such addictions. It provides critical inpatient detoxification programmes, and outpatient support groups to equip patients and their families with effective skills and strategies to prevent relapse. NAMS offers same day appointments so that patients can proceed to treatment on the same day that they are reviewed. This reduces the likelihood of appointment default and ensures that more patients receive the care that they need when they present at IMH.
3. Today, we expect that the internet and gaming addiction rates, especially among the youth, will rise over the years. So it is important that NAMS keeps up with emergent addictions trends that you tailor your services for at-risk groups. A notable example is your ReLIVE clinic, which provides an integrated treatment service for youth struggling with substance and behavioural addictions.
4. To raise public awareness of addiction, NAMS also regularly conducts talks and roadshows in the community, and also conducts training courses both within IMH and with community stakeholders. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, NAMS has also provided training for school counsellors to facilitate timely identification and intervention for students who may require support and assistance.
5. These efforts have started to pay off. The 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study showed that individuals who suffer from alcohol abuse are seeking help within an average of 4 years, compared to 13 years in 2010. The study also showed that individuals with alcohol dependence sought professional help within a year following the start of symptoms. These figures are encouraging and show that our efforts to raise awareness of addiction have enabled people to seek help earlier. But we need to do more to reduce stigma, and to assure persons struggling with addictions that they will be well-supported on their road to recovery.
6. The theme for today’s event is Let’s Face It Together. A person who struggles with addiction is not just an individual – he may also be someone’s spouse, parent, sibling, or friend. Addiction does not affect just an individual – the impact extends to everyone around including the person’s family and friends. Their family and friends are also the same people who then play a pivotal role in supporting that person who struggles with addiction. All of us need to be aware of the signs of addiction so that we can support these people – our friends, and family – where needed and play a supportive role in their life.
7. Community partners also play a key role in supporting persons with addictions. The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association, Central Narcotics Bureau, WE CARE Community Services and the National Council on Problem Gambling are just some of the community partners that NAMS has partnered with to empower persons with addictions and their families with the skills and knowledge to manage their challenges, their addictions. These partners have also been involved in setting up helplines and web chat services to support those in the community and to reach out to those who need help.
8. In closing, ladies and gentlemen, we need to remember the importance of family, friends, colleagues, and community agencies in our fight against addiction.. We can all do our part to work towards an addiction-free society and support those affected on their journey to recovery. Early intervention leads to better treatment outcomes. Thank you to the National Addictions Management Services and the Institute of Mental Health for their good work over the last decade in supporting these individuals and families who struggle with challenges and problems of addiction. I hope you have an enjoyable and fruitful event.
9. Thank you.