Drug relapse and desistance: an Asian perspective
Drug abuse is a complex issue that involves frequent relapses and is challenging to stop. This study thus examined reasons why some offenders with drug antecedents relapse to drugs whilst others desist. The study further explored the processes of drug relapse and desistance. A total of 90 participants consisting of reoffenders and desisters were interviewed using a semi-structured interview form. The transcripts were analysed using inductive and deductive coding methods. The findings suggested that desistance is a journey that requires a holistic approach to rebuilding a new life after release from prison. For offenders with drug history, drug relapse involves complicated interactions between both individual (lack of agency, maladaptive coping and poor decision making) and environmental factors (social influence and having easy access to drugs) that reinforced their drug abuse. On the other hand, drug desisters started with a strong determination and focus to stay away from drugs that was facilitated by prosocial support in their environment. Overtime, they grew stronger, were able to reintegrate into the society and lead a new life for themselves. Several recommendations are proposed to help break the cycle of drug relapse and encourage desistance.