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In this thought-provoking commentary, Dr. Sandor Heng, a senior clinical psychologist at Visions by Promises, sheds light on the concerning rise of teen drug use in Singapore, particularly within the confines of their own homes. Drawing from his experience in addiction treatment, Dr. Heng explores the underlying factors contributing to this alarming trend and offers valuable guidance to parents on how to tackle this growing threat.

Dr. Heng begins by highlighting the alarming statistics revealed by a recent survey by the Institute of Mental Health, indicating that a significant number of Singaporean drug users started experimenting with illegal substances before the age of 18, with home environments being one of the common places where drug use occurs.

He delves into the vulnerabilities of adolescence, where still-developing brain circuits and hormonal changes can lead to heightened stress and intensified emotions. The need for peer acceptance and fitting in with social groups can also drive teens towards substance abuse as an escape from life’s challenges. Dr. Heng emphasizes that drug use during this critical developmental phase can have detrimental consequences on overall well-being and future development.

The impact of social media and the internet is discussed as a significant influence on teens’ perception of drugs, with portrayals of drug use as pleasurable and desirable potentially downplaying associated risks. Dr. Heng points out the challenges this poses for parents, who play a crucial role in providing a safe and supportive environment for their children.

To combat teen drug abuse effectively, Dr. Heng advocates for open communication, setting clear boundaries, and fostering a nurturing atmosphere at home. Parents should educate their children about the dangers of drug abuse and provide accurate information to dispel any misconceptions. Leading by example, parents must embody the values they wish to impart, reinforcing the importance of making healthy choices.

Furthermore, Dr. Heng stresses the need for parents to build strong relationships with their children, recognizing changes in behavior and emotions as a way to offer timely support when needed. While rules and boundaries are essential, enforcement should be done with love and understanding rather than an authoritarian approach, avoiding fostering secrecy and shame.

In conclusion, Dr. Sandor Heng urges parents to be vigilant and proactive in addressing the issue of teen drug use at home. By understanding the complexities of adolescence, providing support, and seeking professional help when necessary, parents can play a crucial role in safeguarding their children from the dangers of substance abuse.

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