While serving his National Service with the Singapore Civil Defence Force, 19-year-old Alif ended up in the Detention Barracks when he went absent without leave after using drugs. He was subsequently referred to Youth Service @ Children’s Society where he was placed in its Youth Enhanced Supervision (YES) programme. 

YES is a 6-month structured programme that seeks to help first-time drug offenders under 21. It aims to stop further drug use and equip parents to support their children in staying drug-free. Here, Alif looks back on his journey and pens a letter to himself acknowledging the courage and resilience it took for him to successfully complete the programme.

“Dear Alif,

Thank you for putting in the effort to change your life. You went through a lot of good and bad things before entering the programme. You realised that it was a life that did not fit with who you were, as you often felt forced to do things that you knew to be wrong.

Through the programme, you learnt that drug use was wrong, and about how it affected you and the people around you. You learnt that you could actually change your life by walking away or staying away from bad friends, having better control over your anger and not giving up easily. This will allow you to lead the life you actually want.

You also noticed how the way you communicate with others has improved over time, as you muster the courage and take the initiative to ask for help when you need it. The language and words you choose have allowed you to express how you think and feel more clearly. 

The change in you has been noticed, including by your mother, and you have also become much closer to your family, sharing with them what you are going through, and spending more time at home with them.

It is important to know who you are, and it is clear that drug use is not a part of that. You are a kind person who willingly helps others and is there for them. You are helpful, give advice to friends in trouble, and support your family. I am proud of how far you have come.”

Click here to read the story in Chinese.