Content Creators Simonboy & Lukeychan Share How Drug Addiction Almost Ruined Their Lives
Singapore has executed several drug traffickers recently, once again raising the question of whether the death penalty should be abolished. But do they really know what effects they can have on addicts, their families, and their loved ones?
Simon Khung, 35, and Luke Chan, 25, understand how drugs ruin lives perfectly. After all, they are both former drug addicts of 16 years and 3 years, respectively.
Their drug addiction and incarceration stories have resonated with social media audiences and garnered plenty of views. Now, they work to promote an anti-drug lifestyle on social media and hope others, especially youths, won’t follow in their footsteps.
MS News caught up with them to discover what they’ve been up to after breaking free from drug addiction.
Difficult upbringing & falling into bad company
Both Simon and Luke came from broken families, with parents who divorced when they were young.
Simon lived with his aunt until he was five. Even though he had shelter, the environment was often loud and negative. His aunt’s family were all smokers; by five, he was already helping his cousin buy cigarettes and, in turn, smoking them.
Although he moved back to stay with his mother later, she had to work to support him and his elder brother. Hence, she wasn’t at home most of the time. Additionally, he bore the brunt of his brother’s envy as his mother would pay more attention to the younger sibling, leading him to stay away from home.
Simon started gambling on marbles using real money when he was eight, then joined a gang when he was 13. At 16, he decided to ‘try’ drugs. But it would lead him down a 16-year spiral, which he only emerged from in 2019.
Luke’s story is not dissimilar. As an only child in a single-parent home, he professed that it was “easy” to be rebellious. He started smoking, joining gangs, and taking drugs as a teen.
It began with cannabis but quickly progressed to methamphetamine (ice) and other hard drugs.
These drugs made me feel good and confident, you don’t need to sleep, and you lose weight fast… but it started to become a habit, no matter my emotions.
From a habit, it developed into drug addiction. “When you’re an addict, you will never admit you are one.”
Luke was still serving his National Service when he was caught with drugs and went into the SAF detention barracks for 11 months and two weeks.
Even though he was drug-free inside, it took just a month after release before he came across old friends and got back on the wagon.
This continued with Luke taking drugs weekly until he looked into the mirror one day in 2020, sometime during the Circuit Breaker. He looked at his reflection and saw a sunken, sallow face — the effects of just three years of hardcore drug abuse.
“I cannot do this to myself anymore,” he told himself then. “(Whenever) I had issues, I started to look forward to these drugs… but they didn’t solve my issues.”
That was when he decided things could not go on like this and cut himself off from his dealers and drug-taking friends.
Unwavering support from mothers kept them going despite drug addiction
For 16 years, Simon struggled heavily with his drug addiction. But throughout, Simon’s mother stood by him, as did Luke’s mother for him.
Speaking with MS News, Simon and Luke said their unwavering support kept them from spiralling into a point of no return.
We’re so blessed to have our mums in our lives.
Despite all that he’d done and his multiple incarcerations, Simon’s mother never gave up on him. Not even when he stole thousands of dollars from her ATM card to fund his addiction, as well as cut himself on the arm before throwing bloodstained tissues at her.
“You were not like this (when you were a boy),” Simon’s mother told him. “This is not you.”
Now, he does whatever he can so he can support her, who’s now in her 70s.
“I made a lot of mistakes, especially towards my loved ones,” Simon said. “I was divorced twice because of drugs. I even made my father (a taxi driver) fetch me to send drugs.” He would even smoke drugs while in the passenger seat.
He reasoned that if they were pulled over, his father would not be implicated as he could simply say he was a taxi driver. Due to his parents’ divorce, their surnames are also different (Simon took his mum’s surname).
These regrets over his past actions would stay with him throughout, especially during his incarceration and after his father passed away.
What kind of son does this nonsense?
As an ex-convict, Simon has been in and out of Changi Prison since 2015 for a total of three sentences. “In prison, I learned to be strong, to take care of my hygiene. I also met many people from all walks of life inside.”
Turning point came after suicide attempt
Many drug addicts can stay drug-free while in prison but relapse soon after release. However, it’s not because they get cravings.
Although they tell themselves they would be clean after their release, it would not take long for the temptation to return after seeing old friends.
For Simon, the turning point was probably the years after his last release in 2019. Depressed and full of self-loathing, he endured a period of self-destruction and eventually tried to commit suicide by drinking bleach.
But he vomited several times, passed out, and woke up a few hours later, somehow refreshed. That was his call to turn away from his 16-year drug addiction and begin a spiritual life in return for being given a second chance.
Therefore, their best advice to people with drug addictions is to cut off all temptation avenues and check into a halfway house, where there will be no opportunity to stray.
Simon explained that even phone usage is limited there, meaning that the chance of contacting or seeing friends who take drugs is significantly lessened.
Setting down egos to make a living
With their numerous tattoos, a lack of educational qualifications or job experience, and several years spent behind bars, both Simon and Luke found it difficult to obtain a stable living after being released from confinement. Luke was rejected in interview after interview, not because of his looks but because he lacked job experience.
Thus, they had to put aside their egos and work in any job they could, from food delivery to cleaning.
“It’s not difficult to find a job,” they said. “If you’re willing to put in the effort and not care about what people think — you can find a job.”
(People’s) opinions don’t feed your family. You have to go out there.
While Simon did a safety coordinator course to upgrade himself, he found that Luke’s anti-drug videos on TikTok resonated with him more than a career in construction or food delivery riding.
Inspired to create similar content and deter youths from falling into the same path he did, Simon took a chance at content creation, and met Luke around November of last year.
Soon, they became fast friends. Now, they make content together.
This is us. We have a story to tell, wasnt easy, but we hope to motivate other addicts out there that u can do it too. @simonboyyyyyyy
Both of them have also established their own clothing labels – Chance Apparels and Sobriety Clothing. Recently, they’ve moved into an office to expand Bluebird News, a channel focused on delivering news in short tidbits.
They shared that they can now “survive” with content creation and other investments but, more importantly, give their respective mothers some money every month.
Invited back to tour SAF Detention Barracks
Luke and Simon were recently invited to the SAF Detention Barracks – where Luke spent much of his time in NS – to record a speech. This speech would be used by the Singapore Army to motivate its detainees and help them overcome addiction.
Simon remarked that it looked “like a second prison”, with a similarly regimented routine.
Luke’s staff sergeant had invited him back after seeing his videos, and Simon was invited too since they had similar backgrounds and could share about his experiences in prison.
Their goal? To sway others away from the paths they led. It isn’t one they’d recommend to anybody.
A need to stop drugs from reaching Singapore’s shores
Overcoming drug addiction is not as easy as it appears. Simon, in particular, has lost at least 10 friends to suicide in part due to drug abuse.
Hence, they support punishments for drug traffickers like the death penalty, even though they agree it is “harsh”.
“If the death penalty exists and people are still trafficking drugs, what would happen if it were repealed? Singapore would have even more drugs,” Luke argued.
Their overall message is clear. There’s no room for drug tolerance in Singapore, and they want others not to fall down the same path as they did.
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Featured image courtesy of Simon Khung and Luke Chan.
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