Drugs put their lives on the line

SINGAPORE - As a self-confessed health freak, he takes great pains to look his best by exercising regularly and watching his diet.

But Zack (not his real name) has witnessed people he knew abusing their bodies by consuming illegal drugs.

The well-built 30-something Singaporean bachelor who is now based overseas said he used to be a party animal.

Despite his hard partying ways, he insisted that alcohol was his only poison. But he has seen his friends abuse Ecstasy, ketamine and methamphetamine, also known as Ice, which has in recent years, become a popular party drug.

Zack, who works in marketing, said that he started partying in the late 90s. That was when he first saw an Ecstasy pill.

He told The New Paper over the phone last week: "I was having pre-party drinks at a friend's place when one of the guests took out some multi-coloured pills and started distributing them to the others.

"I knew it was Ecstasy as I had read about it before. He offered me one and I refused. I was tempted to try but I decided not to take any risks.

"They were a fun bunch of guys and we always had lots of fun together. I tried to tell them many times that it's stupid to do drugs - especially in Singapore where the drug laws are so strict. "But they just laughed and called me 'aunty' - apparently for being 'naggy' ."

Not long afterwards, at around 2000, he came across a new drug in a form of a white powder. "My friends called it 'Special K' and I later found out it was ketamine. They would inhale the drug... Then their eyes would glaze over and they would dance more energetically."

Zack said that his friends would take both Ecstasy and ketamine together every weekend before they hit the clubs.

"They would store the drug in this tiny vial that they called a 'bullet' and apparently you could adjust the amount of ketamine you could inhale by adjusting a knob on it.

"My friends were quite daring. They would pass the 'bullet' from one person to another on the dance floor.

"Those who got the vial would then rush to the toilet to snort the drug."

Zombified

Drugged out and zombified

However, the reality of consuming illegal drugs hit hard when one of his friends consumed too much ketamine at a club and became catatonic.

"Another friend said that he had entered a 'k-hole' which happens when one snorts too much of the drug. We had to rush him home and attend to him because he became almost like a 'zombie'. "He only became lucid about an hour later."

His friend was lucky. Others have suffered severe bodily damage from their abuse of drugs.

According to the Central Narcotics Bureau website, Ecstasy can cause kidney, liver and brain damage while ketamine can cause urinary and bladder problems.

Other drugs like methamphetamine or "Ice" can even cause death.

Those convicted of abusing drugs also face jail time and rehabilitation. For instance, anyone convicted of consuming or being in possession of Ice can be jailed up to 10 years and fined up to $20,000.

Zack said that Ecstasy and ketamine were the drugs of choice among clubbers back then.

"I left Singapore in 2005 after I got an offer to work overseas and I still keep in touch with my friends every now and then."

He returned to Singapore in 2009 and caught up with his old gang.

This time around, he noticed that they were abusing a new drug of choice - "Ice".

"They said that Ecstasy and ketamine were then harder to find as compared to Ice. They would smoke the drug before hitting the clubs.

Confused

Confused

"By then, I was confused. Years had passed and those guys were still abusing drugs and they definitely aren't getting younger. Honestly, I felt quite disgusted even though those guys were my friends."

Zack added with a sigh that he had tried "countless" times to advise his friends to lead drug-free lives and they had just ignored his good intentions.

"I decided that enough was enough and distanced myself from the group. I haven't heard from them since."

Clubbers whom TNP spoke to said that they have not witnessed any drug use while partying away at night.

Said Mr A. Goh, 20, who clubs once a month: "Generally, the clubs here are pretty clean."

Another clubber, a 19-year-old student who declined to be named, said she has heard of some clubs with a higher drug user rate than others.

"But I haven't seen any drugs in clubs myself," she said.

A Zirca spokesman said that the Clarke Quay nightspot takes preventive measures to ensure there's no drug use in its premises.

He said: "We have security personnel patrolling among the crowd and body checks are done on those entering the club.

"If we see anything, we will definitely report it to the police."

tnp@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in The New Paper .

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