Sarawak on right track to address drug, substance use and use disorders, says Deputy Premier

Awang Tengah (standing third Left) presents a Phoenix Award to Constance Luk of Malaysia, while Fatimah (second right) and others look on at the Pheonix Award And Gala Dinner held in conjunction with International Recovery Symposium (IRS) 2023 on Sept 20, 2023. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

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By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Sept 20: Sarawak is on the right track to address drug and substance use and use disorders, says Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan

Awang Tengah said that the rate of 0.8 per cent of relapse in drug abuse and a ratio of 1:6 seeking help in Sarawak for groups affected by a substance in Sarawak in 2022 are impressive achievements.

With this accomplishment, he said, Sarawak must continue to confront future challenges.

“It is vital for us to tackle the root causes, be it trauma, economic disparities, mental health, or social pressure,” he added.

Awang Tengah made these remarks at the Phoenix Award And Gala Dinner at Imperial Hotel tonight held in conjunction with the International Recovery Symposium (IRS) 2023.

He emphasised that while a balanced approach to drug demand reduction and supply control is desired, the impact of treatment and recovery care is significant.

“Therefore, we need to invest in prevention and early intervention to mitigate the impact of addiction on individuals, families, and community well-being and (ensure) that recovery is possible.

“Everyone on the recovery journey deserves unwavering support and encouragement from all walks of life,” he said.

Awang Tengah called for organisations, governments, and philanthropists worldwide to invest to provide appropriate facilities, resources, and competencies for robust drug demand reduction activities and programmes in the community.

He said persons in recovery must voluntarily come forward to get help and change their lifestyle.

“Your commitment to the cause of recovery is vital,” he told those present, adding that the collective power of compassion and determination is crucial to a more resilient and healthier world.

“Together, let us make a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction,” said Awang Tengah.

Apart from the award presentations, Awang Tengah also launched the national chapter of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) and Asia Recovery Network (ARN).

Participants representing a total of 22 countries attended IRS 2023 from Sept 18 to 21, with 17 speakers featured.

Minister of Women, Early Childhood and Community Well-being Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah who is also the chairwoman of the One-Stop Committee (OSC) for Tackling Drug and Substances Issues was among those present.