Wong Ying-ming Rises From Meth Addiction to Social Work
The 35-year-old now volunteers in a rehabilitation center, encouraging people to quit drugs by sharing the story of his own struggles.
When did you first start taking drugs? It was 20 years ago when I started doing drugs. I was playing basketball with my friends one day and they started passing marijuana around. I was young, and I felt like if I didn’t participate then I wouldn’t fit in with the team. Before that I had never smoked, and I never imagined that I ever would. Three years later, some of my friends wanted to go to a disco, and I was curious because I had never been. I still remember taking ecstasy that night and I guess that was when I first started to get addicted. When I was taking it, I was thinking, “Will I die from this?” Later on I felt very high, my body was moving and swinging naturally, like I was flying.
How did you get into dealing? It was easy for me to get drugs, so the idea of being a drug dealer naturally emerged. If I needed to buy it anyway, why shouldn’t I sell it to other people and earn money? There were huge discos in Tsuen Wan with thousands of people dancing and doing drugs. Selling drugs to people made me feel important—that was my stupid thinking in the old days. And I also did make money from it. Once I even used my earnings to open a chicken pot shop.
Were you ever caught by the police? I am very lucky indeed. Police only made raids on nightclubs, and I was never caught. One time the police found out about me and came to my apartment. My grandma answered the door and once they saw a baby in the house, all they did was give me a warning. If they had looked around my bedroom, I would have definitely been caught! Maybe the police saw there were so many people in my house and wanted to give me a chance that time.
So when did you finally stop taking drugs? Police raided almost every nightclub in 2004. I quit ketamine, but later started taking ice [crystal meth]. It’s much stronger, and I couldn’t sleep. I also had illusions and paranoia—I felt like people were following me, and even wanted to kill me. Then I met a girl—she actually pulled me out of a dumpster! After that, we started dating and I started to live like normal people. But five years later, I met another girl who took cocaine and the cycle started all over again. Cocaine is a very expensive drug, we spent around $3,000-4,000 a night. I started having trouble urinating and my stomach and bladder were in so much pain. I had to go to the toilet around 60 times a day. I couldn’t work because of it, and the doctor told me if I kept taking drugs, I would need to get a catheter. I really couldn’t imagine this—so I decided to quit for good.
How did you force yourself to quit? I volunteered to live in Shek Kwu Chau Treatment & Rehabilitation Centre for 13 months. I tried to live a healthy lifestyle and do exercise: The first three months was torture. But I didn’t want to be useless, and I was determined to quit drugs. Also, I realized how important my family was to me. I wrote letters to my friends and got no reply, but my family came to visit me every month. After eight months, I finally turned my life around.
How do you think your story can help encourage others to quit? I used to sell drugs which hurt a lot of people, and nowadays I really want to help people instead. When I quit drugs, social workers helped me a lot. To be a social worker is really meaningful. I want to tell young people what I’ve been through, and help them not to follow down the same path. I go talk at different schools, and appear on TV and radio shows to encourage people to give up drugs. We still have a long way to go, and
drug addicts really need a lot of support to help them quit.
How has your own life changed? I deeply want to help people. Nowadaysmy values have changed, and even the tiniest thing can make me feel happy.