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Group to raise drug awareness among gays

Jan 23, 2010
Group to raise drug awareness among gays
By Leow Si Wan, The Straits Times

THE Oogachaga group is offering counselling to gay people to let them know of the danger of any form of drug-taking, as it could easily lead to addiction.

The non-profit counselling organisation aims to reach out especially to individuals conflicted over their sexuality, who might turn to drugs.

As part of its outreach to at-risk groups, it will hold its first community talk for the year next Saturday on substance abuse.

The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association, which is participating in Oogachaga's talk, said it intends to raise awareness among those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Oogachaga's centre manager, Mr Bryan Choong, 32, said findings from various studies conducted by universities and relevant organisations in Singapore and overseas on drug usage showed that a large number of people in this group took recreational drugs.

Other studies, he added, have concluded that the use of drugs or alcohol before or during sexual activity greatly increases the likelihood of unsafe sex.

Substance abuse may also facilitate the progression of HIV infections by further compromising the immune system.

Mr Choong noted: 'Certain people in the community could have a higher chance of substance abuse because they want to seek relief from feeling marginalised by society and their families.'

The worry is that not enough of these people fully understand the risks of their behaviour.

'Based on my counselling experience, not many in the community are aware of the long-term damaging effects of alcohol and drugs,' Mr Choong said.

'Hopefully, the talk will address that and let them know where they can seek help.'

An Oogachaga volunteer, who declined to be named, said: 'Knowing where they can seek help and how families can support them is important because many are hesitant about sharing their substance abuse problems, for fear it will be a double stigma for them.'

Some of his own friends have lost their lives, or sanity, to drugs. He said: 'They must know the consequences - they are endangering their lives.'

Those interested in the talk at Parkroyal on Kitchener Road hotel can e-mail events@oogachaga.com