From addict to advocate: Using TikTok to inspire others on recovery path

Beyond wanting to help drug users, Luke Chan hopes to use his story to prevent youths from falling onto the wrong path.

Kirby Tan

Will redo the same personality test until I get the results I want.

Published: 14 July 2023, 12:00 PM

In celebration of Youth Month, Youthopia is highlighting stories of youth who have created spark in their life. Luke Chan, 25, shares how he uses his life story to ensure others stay on the right path. 

A sweep of bleached hair, furrowed brows and wide eyes fill the screen. Armed with tattoo sleeves and a slew of Singaporean slang, Luke Chan is no stranger to the local TikTok For You Page.

Better known by his online moniker, Lukeychan, the 25-year-old full-time content creator has amassed over 120k followers on TikTok with his skits and vlogs. While much of his content is lighthearted and comedic, Luke also uses his platform to advocate against drug use. 


Luke has recently been signed to Titan Digital Media, a digital marketing agency that was founded by influencer JianHao Tan. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/TIANA QUEK


Just three years ago, Luke was an addict. 

He recalls being surrounded by “bad influences” who regularly smoked and used drugs. Driven by curiosity, Luke had dipped his toes before plunging into the deep end. What started as a quick puff on a cigarette turned into smoking cannabis, before escalating to snorting methamphetamine – a hard drug more commonly known as crystal meth. 

This downward spiral began when he was 15.  

“At that young age, we don’t think too much of the consequences (of taking drugs),” he said. “We always think that drugs (are) for fun… ‘any time can quit’. That was my mindset back then.”

Yet without realising, he became an addict and was kicked out of school multiple times. During National Service, Luke found himself facing a harsher reality. 

A day after enlisting, he started to “keng” (hokkien for feigning sickness). Using his existing eczema condition as a front, he got his fixes from the 14-day medical leaves it granted him.

But his constant booking in and out of camp soon came to a halt. About six months in, he had to go for a mass urine test. 

Luke recalls how he tried to evade it, telling his sergeant he was feeling unwell and had to visit the doctor. Still, his attempts were futile. 

“So, I was like you know what, whatever. I’ll just go and pee, give the urine and serve the consequences,” he said.

A month later, his urine test came back positive and he was sent to the military court. 

There, he was forced to confront the impact his actions had on others. “When I was at court, I saw my mum (and) she actually cried. Seeing her cry actually made me… I teared, I teared in court.”


Luke was eight when his parents got divorced, and he has been raised by mother since then. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@LUKEYYCHAN8


For the next 11 months and two weeks, he was confined in a small cell at the Singapore Armed Forces Detention Barracks (DB). 

As he recounted his stay in DB, he shared he had nothing but a straw mat to sleep on. “It was actually mentally tough for me in the Detention Barracks. You can’t really get to go out, you don’t have a phone, you don’t get to eat the food that you like to eat.”

On top of that, he had to deal with withdrawal symptoms. For two months, he was unable to sleep well.  

Throughout his sentence, his mother was his only solace. He said: “I was very blessed that my mum came and visited me every time (she could)… she even borrowed books for me to read, which I’m very thankful and blessed for.”


Luke shared that his mother remained his pillar of support even at the height of his addiction. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@LUKEYYCHAN8


But old habits die hard. Just one month after he was released, he reconnected with his old friends and relapsed. This continued for about six months before he hit rock bottom. 

“I was at my lowest phrase. I was taking the drugs (and) was honestly crying while taking them. I couldn’t even feel happy,” he shared. Until now, he recalls how his mother pleaded with him, saying she was growing old and couldn’t afford to continue taking care of him. 

While he couldn’t shake off this guilt, he only curbed his addiction after seeing his reflection.

“I saw myself and my face was all sunken in. I looked like I hadn’t slept in so many days, (or even) months,” he said. This gave him the final push to cut off all contact with his suppliers and the “bad influences”. 


While he was on drugs, Luke said he had lost a significant amount of weight and looked “malnourished” PHOTO CREDIT: TIKTOK/@LUKEYCHAN6


As he was getting clean, he started taking up odd jobs. While he experimented with a few career options, he made videos on TikTok to pass time. With his growing following, the idea of making content creation his full-time career sparked. 

This was when he decided to use his platform to share how he overcame his four-year addiction. Initially, his mother had disapproved of this. Worried about the judgement and backlash he would face from online mobs, she questioned why he wanted to be so public about his struggles. To ease her anxiety, he explained his rationale: to raise awareness about drug abuse. 


Im ever grateful and thankful for the support on my journey of being a person in recovery. Never turning back. Cheers to almost 3 years sobriety.

♬ original sound - Lukeychan6

Luke believes his videos have resonated with many former addicts. Under one of his videos, they had flooded his comment section with messages of support. That was when he realised many others were grappling with addiction.

“Even if I can motivate or inspire just one guy who is going through drug recovery, it already means a lot. Just by inspiring one or two, or three guys, is enough,” he said. 

True to his word, Luke has not shied away from sharing his story. Instead of limiting himself to his own social media platforms, he has gone onto several other media outlets to speak about his experience with drug addiction. 

Moving forward, Luke hopes to advocate against drug abuse on a larger stage. He’s now working towards a goal – to give talks at schools in hopes of educating students about the dangers of drug use. 

Through the years, he has seen many youths dabbling in drug use without understanding the gravity of their actions. “Some people just think that it’s fun, (that) they can just take it and then just quit any time and that it won’t affect them but sometimes, you won’t know… you can just become an addict and you won’t even realise it,” he said.

As he reflects on his own experience with drug abuse, he urges youths not to be tempted by the allure of drugs. He shared: “You might have a friend who is going to come out to you (and say): ‘Eh brother, (do) you want to try this?’ Trust me, you do not want to try it. I’m a walking example.

“Definitely say no to drugs, please. Go for your passions, your career, there are so (many) better things you can do in life.”

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