From A Life Of Drug Addiction To Saving Addicts' Lives
STORY: Sim Ding En
26 June 2021
This video was filmed before the outbreak of COVID-19 locally.
It's been said that "second chances are not given to make things right, but are given to prove that we could be better even after we fall".
To commemorate International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking (26 June) - observed as an expression of the United Nations General Assembly's determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse - we throw the spotlight on Thomas Koh, whose life is the embodiment of second chances.
Riddled with domestic abuse and fear, his was a childhood that he wasn't proud of, leading him to seek solace in the instant gratification he felt that substances offered. The swift descent into drug addiction eventually led to a divorce from his first wife and thoughts of suicide.
In tears, he made his way to the National Addictions Managment Service (NAMS) office at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).
Thomas' recovery wasn't without its complications - multiple relapses were just one of the obstacles he faced. But persevere he did, and he eventually had a breakthrough.
Today, married and a father, Thomas is a Peer Support Specialist with NAMS, and reaches out to recovering addicts by sharing with them his own story of recovery.
"For a man like me, who couldn't even control his bowels to becoming a father... this is nothing short of a miracle," says Thomas.
Set up in 2008 at IMH with the support of the Ministry of Health, NAMS provides treatment and support for those addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling and gaming.
Apart from offering clinical care, the multidisciplinary team of specialists at NAMS is also heavily involved in doing research, counselling (for both addicts and their families) as well as teaming up with community agencies to educate the public on issues related to addiction.
While NAMS runs an outpatient clinic and an inpatient ward at IMH, addiction management services are also available at the Community Wellness Clinic at Queenstown Polyclinic.
Helplines and resources
• For all forms of addiction, call 6-RECOVER or 6732 6837.
• Call the gambling helpline at 1800-666 8668.
• Have a loved one with an addiction? Read this.