129 S'pore drug abusers below age 20 arrested in 2023, youngest aged 14

The CNB is "very concerned that drug abuse seems to be starting at a much younger age".

Hannah Martens | February 15, 2024, 10:07 AM



The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) arrested 3101 drug abusers in 2023, an increase of 10 per cent from the 2,868 abusers arrested in 2022.

CNB's director, Sam Tee, noted in the CNB's Singapore Drug Situation Report 2023 that while Singapore's drug situation remains under control, there are "worrying trends".

In particular, he said that the CNB is "very concerned that drug abuse seems to be starting at a much younger age".

Rise in drug abusers arrested

According to the annual statistics released by CNB on Feb. 14, 2024, 3,101 drug abusers were arrested in 2023, of which 944 were new drug abusers.

Image via CNB

While the total number of arrested drug abusers increased by 10 per cent from 2,826 in 2022, the number of new drug abusers increased by 18 per cent from 902 in 2022.

Out of the 3,101 drug abusers arrested in 2023, 850 were below 30 years old, which makes 27 per cent.

129 of the arrested young abusers were below the age of 20.

The youngest abusers arrested in 2023 were five 14-year-olds.

Drug abuse starting at younger age

Among the 902 new drug abusers arrested, 480, or 51 per cent, were aged below 30.

94 were aged below 20, compared to the 83 arrested in 2022, an increase of 13 per cent.

Tee said that the 2022 Health and Lifestyle Survey conducted by the Institute of Mental Health found that the mean age of onset of drug abuse was 15.9 years.

The survey said 41.8 per cent of abusers reported taking drugs before the age of 18, and many consume the drugs at home or their friend's home.

Most commonly abused drugs

CNB dismantled 25 drug syndicates in 2023, including syndicates using Telegram, and arrested numerous traffickers.

CNB also seized a significant amount of drugs, with the estimated market value of the seized drugs being about S$15.37 million.

The three most commonly abused drugs in Singapore were methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis.

Image via CNB

Methamphetamine abusers made up the largest proportion of all new abusers, with 591 arrested for abusing the drug, compared to 497 arrested in 2022.

The number of new cannabis abusers arrested also increased by 8 per cent from 168 in 2022 to 182 in 2023.

Preventive drug education and amendments to Misuse of Drugs Act

CNB intensified its preventive drug education outreach with their partners to help educate and engage different segments of the community on the harms of drugs and empower Singaporeans to stay drug-free.

In addition, under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) Amendment Bill in 2023, new tiered penalties for possession of large quantities of eight controlled drugs were introduced based on the weight of the drugs.

The eight drugs are:

  • Morphine
  • Diamorphine
  • Opium
  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis
  • Cannabis resin
  • Cannabis mixture
  • Methamphetamine

In addition, a new statutory framework for psychoactive substances will come into effect in the first half of 2024.

Tee said,

"CNB will be relentless in the fight against drugs. We will continue our preventive drug education and our tough enforcement stance. However, we cannot stem the tide alone but need the support of the public."

Top photo via Canva