'I pestered dying mother for money to buy drugs'
The New Paper
By Koh Hui Theng
SINGAPORE - He was 13 when he took his first puff of marijuana.
That marked the start of a 20-year fight with drugs, in which he would lose his friends, his family's respect and his mother.
But at that time, the teenage Johnny Chin just wanted to fit in with his gang member friends.
So he got a tattoo, got into fights and tried drugs. Soon, he was taking heroin and Subutex, mixing them with the sleeping pill Dormicum.
But he wasn't an insomniac, neither did he suffer from anxiety attacks - ailments that Dormicum was prescribed for.
So Mr Chin, now 38, ended up buying the pills from GPs or on the black market.
"They were very easy to get - I would go from clinic to clinic and lie that I was working overseas. Doctors hardly asked me any questions," he recalled.
In 2000, the going rate was about $1 a pill. In 2007, he paid $7 each. In contrast, a 0.2g straw of heroine cost $50.
He would crush the Dormicum pill into a powder and mix it with water or Coca-Cola. Sometimes, he would consume it with Subutex and the cough syrup Codeine.
At one stage, he was injecting himself up to 15 times a day. "I could stay in my room the whole day, surviving on just three small buns because I didn't feel like doing anything else except inject myself."
When he ran out of money to fund his $300 weekly fix, "I would lie, beg, borrow or steal from friends".
His addiction became so extreme that the veins on his hands and legs collapsed. Undeterred, Mr Chin turned to injecting drugs into the veins in his neck.
One by one, his father and two brothers turned away from him. But his mother stood by her middle son.
She would stay up to open the door for him. "I was so high, I couldn't even slot the key into the keyhole," he said. "Even when my mother was on her death bed, I pestered her for money to buy drugs."