In Singapore, many things are taboo: the birds and the bees, same-sex marriages and relationships (though that’s slowly changing), euthanasia, and strong opinions on religion or politics. Up until recently, mental health fell in this category, too.

Then there’re drug crimes, which were valued at some $1.23 billion in a 2015 NTU study.

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The sum factored in the salaries that convicted abusers could’ve earned during the length of their imprisonment, as well operating costs at key anti-drug agencies including the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), Drug Rehabilitation Centre (under Singapore Prison Service) and Singapore Narcotics Association (SANA).

This estimate, however, notably excluded the intangible costs pegged to drug crimes — such as the emotional trauma inflicted on an abuser or trafficker’s family, debt, lost lives or loss of productivity to society.

What Defines Drug Crimes?

To be clear, drug crimes refer to the consumption, possession, sale, trafficking