Alden Boon

Johnny Chin on Reigniting His Faith, Beating Drug Addiction, and the Need to Remove Labels


For twenty years, Johnny Chin lived his life strung out on drugs — heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, he has tried them all. It was only when he reconnected with God that he managed to quit drugs, and transform his life. Today, he works as a counsellor, assisting drug addicts and at-risk youths to find their paths in life. This is his story.

Johnny, could you describe your younger self and your family background?

My dad used to own a furniture business, and my mom was a housewife. I was not exactly the most obedient son growing up, but I was not involved in any mischief.

How did you get involved with gang activity and drugs then?

When I was thirteen years old, on the first day of my secondary-school life, a group of seniors approached me and asked if I wanted to be a part of their gang. Being in a new environment as well as wanting to belong to a group and have a sense of identity, I said ‘yes’. It was then I started playing truant, smoking and glue-sniffing. I would steal things from the mall — it wasn’t that I couldn’t afford them; my family was rather well to do, but there was a high that I got from it. I also got tattoos on my back.

Every Friday night, we would gather and loiter around the void deck where we drank and smoked. On Saturdays, we would sell newspapers — since it was lottery night, many needed the newspapers to check the winning numbers. That was how we earned our money. Then, we would pool together our earnings, book a hotel room and get high.

What was it like to be high on drugs?

With marijuana, you are still aware of what is going on. There’s a type of marijuana that induces paranoia. For example, when I was high on it, I didn’t dare to cross the street, even though there were no incoming cars or any signs of danger. I was seventeen the first time I had heroin. I hated the experience. I kept vomiting and perspiring, and I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t get hooked though. But three weeks later, when I didn’t have access to marijuana, it became my go-to fix.

I was one of the first to consume ecstasy when it reached Singapore circa 1996. Back then, a pill cost a hundred and twenty-five dollars. Two of my friends and I checked into a hotel, and tried it along with marijuana. After consuming it, one of my friends kept blow-drying his hair, another kept jumping on the bed. I couldn’t stop biting my nails. A week later, while at the karaoke pub, a lady taught us the proper way to do it, which is to blast techno music and shake your head.

By 19, Jennifer Heng Already Had Two Abortions. This Is Her Story of Secret Shame, Self-forgiveness and Triumph.

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Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.