Parents with similar experiences: We know how Jackie feels

Parents with similar experiences: We know how Jackie feels
(From left) Jackie Chan, action movie star, wife Lin Feng-jiao, former Taiwanese actress and their son Jaycee Chan, during Lin's 60th birthday.

Single mother, Madam Julie (not her real name) never thought she had to worry about her two sons, now aged 36 and 32.

"Even as kids, they were always well-behaved, even when I was working long hours trying to put food on the table," said the 58-year-old Singaporean, who works in the hospitality industry.

But when she heard that Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee, was arrested for a drug offence, it struck a nerve.

It happened to her too three years ago.

That's when she learnt her youngest son, John had a drug problem. She discovered this after he was arrested and the revelation devastated Madam Julie.

"He was always well mannered and sociable. Besides, I knew his friends and he also helped to pay the bills every month, so it didn't occur to me that something was wrong with his life," Madam Julie told The New Paper recently.

In 2011, John, who was then a hospitality manager, was arrested for consuming Ice, a methamphetamine also known as crystal meth. It landed him a jail sentence of 18 months. He was released from jail in November the following year.

Madam Julie said she still remembers the day a police officer called her at home to deliver the news.

She could not believe it.

After all, it was unlike John to mix with "the bad crowd", said Madam Julie, who lives in a three-room HDB flat in the western part of Singapore with her youngest son.

"Yes, I was never at home but we talked a lot and I always thought we shared everything," she said, her voice quivering as she spoke about a chapter of her life she wants to stay hidden in the past.

"I nearly fainted when the police officer called me to say my son has been arrested for drugs," she added.

Turned upside down

Another parent, who wanted to be identified only as Mr Lim, agreed, saying: "It's not an easy reality to face when you know your child is hiding a drug addiction."

His family's life was turned upside down in 2010 when his son, then a student at a private university, was arrested for Ice consumption.

"Even though I was very angry with my son for throwing his life away, I still kept it a secret because we did not want to fuel gossip among friends and neighbours," said the businessman who is in his 60s.

Like Mr Lim, Madam Julie said she and her eldest son, a mechanic, were too embarrassed to speak to anybody except their closest family members.

She said: "It was a difficult time. My son was in jail and I could not even pour my emotions to a friend because I did not want to be seen as a mother who had a drug addict for a son."

But there was a silver lining.

While in jail, John volunteered for Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association's (Sana) Case Management Framework (CMF) Programme. This comprises a two-month pre-release counselling and a six-month aftercare counselling upon an inmate's release.

While still working on his rehabilitation, John is also working towards being a Peer Leader, or a role model to fellow recovering clients who are in the early stages of post-incarceration.

Madam Julie could not be any happier.

She said: "While he was in prison, John told me he wanted to turn his life around."

"I am glad he kept his promise, but what makes me really proud is that he now strives to help others along the way."

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