Close MCPF Advocate (ex-MCPF EXCO / MCPF Penang Deputy Chairman) Associate Professor Dr. P. Sundramoorthy of USM was on the airwaves of ASTRO AWANI where he had a half hour interview with Astro AWANI’s Talk Show Host Nazri Kahar on 30th November 2018. The focus of the Interview was on “Penagihan dadah – Jenayah atau masalah kesihatan?” This topic “Drug Addiction – Crime or Health Problem?” is an interesting topic that has seen many in the know seeking a review for a serious paradigm change in how Drug Addiction is being viewed upon by Society, Authorities and Lawmakers alike. The key highlights that can be ascertained from this very informative talk show encompassed the following: 1. The governing laws that treats all drug addicts as ‘criminals’ has to be changed to a ‘softer and more humanitarian approach / paradigm shift where the issue is treated as a Health problem. Countries that have adopted this approach have seen gradual decline in their drug addiction cases. 2. It takes time… maybe two to three years for legislative changes that needs the support from all quarters especially the Government. The authorities including AADK – Agensi Anti-Dadah Kebangsaan (National Anti-Drug Agency) and PDRM need to be better informed, educated and treat such (drug addiction cases) differently. The general public, society and others including parents / teachers / councilors must have greater awareness of this shift in perspective. 3. In the meantime, we must recognize that there are essentially two categories of countermeasures being required i.e. a) the Drug Addict (be it Social, Casual or Hard Core); and b) the Drug Addicts who are involved in Crimes. The first require treatment / rehabilitation whilst the second requires both treatment / rehabilitation and punishment. 4. Treating Drug Addiction as a Health concern (Emotional, Psychological, Physiological) needs concerted efforts by Clinics, Hospitals and Treatment Centres to consider avoiding official records with NRIC Numbers to provide the more humanitarian conduit for drug addicts to come forward and to voluntary admit to their addiction and to seek treatment / rehabilitation help. Thus, the ‘stigma’ of a criminal record, which would invariably ruin their future, can be avoided. 5. Today, because of existing Laws, both Drug Addicts and Drug Traders (Pushers and Peddlers) are treated as criminals. This has in turn led to a conundrum where our Prisons are overcrowded, giving rise to a burdensome cost prohibitive situation. Treating Drug Addicts as a Health Challenge will undoubtedly help to alleviate this situation. MCPF Penang looks forward to working closely with USM, State Education Department, Health Department, AADK and other NGOs in helping this ongoing quest.