Brian Tan: An ex-convict's story
He was only 16 when he joined a secret society and 18 when he tried drugs for the first time.
By 24, Mr Brian Tan was deep into a life of crime, debt and addiction as a loan shark runner, drug peddler, gambler and drug addict.
It was also when he also hit the lowest point in his life. He was caught for Ecstasy possession and sentenced to two years' probation.
For Mr Tan, now 33, the toll his dark past took on his relationship with his family still weighs heavily.
Over five years, he had accumulated debt totalling $60,000 from frequent gambling and borrowing from loan sharks.
For his mother, her son's wayward behaviour and mounting debt pushed her too far.
The situation hit its nadir when after an emotional and turbulent encounter, his mother threatened to jump from their seventh storey flat. High on drugs, he wa numb and felt nothing.
"(Instead of stopping her), I told my mum that if she jumped, I would jump with her."
His parents, who were then fishmongers, paid off his debts time and again, holding on to Mr Tan's empty promises that he would change.
"My dad once knelt before me, crying, begging me (to change my ways). I told him that was the last time because I knew that I had him wrapped around my little finger," he recalls and admits that at the time, he was utterly selfish.
"True enough, he loaned me $10,000. I paid off my debt and even had some spare cash."
But back then, spare cash meant one thing for Mr Tan.
"I headed straight to buy drugs."
After he was caught in 2008 for taking Ecstasy pills and put on probation, Mr Tan not only lost his freedom, but also his family. The incident was a breaking point and they refused to talk to him.
It was in 2010 that he attempted to rebuild his life, enrolling in the halfway-house programme at The New Charis Mission, catered to rehabilitate ex-drug offenders. It was not an easy transition.
"In the beginning, I went in with a 'prison demeanour', always on my guard in case fights broke out. The first few weeks took a lot of getting used to."
There, he attended counselling sessions and was guided by two mentors, including Pastor Don Wong.
He also strengthened his faith.
Now, Mr Tan gives back at New Charis by mentoring former inmates.
"It brings joy to me knowing that I can contribute to society. I truly believe that my time at The New Charis Mission saved and changed my life," he says.
He has another reason to be happy - he reconciled with his family members after his one-year stay at the halfway house.
Now, the family of five gather for weekly meals and often celebrate special occasions together.
"I realise now that drugs had such a hold over me that it made me so selfish. As fishmongers, my parents would wake up at 12am everyday. They sacrificed so much by using their hard-earned money just to pay off my debts. I still thought they owed it to me," he says.
For Mr Tan, the advice he would give to ex-offenders is this - don't repeatedly beat yourself up over your past mistakes.
"If you're struggling right now, always remember that your family members love you and they have your back." he said. - additional reporting by Reni Chng