In August of last year, it was reported that Nam Tae-hyun, a former member of the popular idol group Winner, was booked by the police on charges of using Philopon. A year later, in July of this year, Nam Tae-hyun appeared on a broadcast and warned teenagers, “You shouldn’t even be interested in drugs,” saying, “What’s left after taking drugs is 500 million won in debt and overdue credit card payments.” A K-pop idol with a global fandom was forced to give up both his and his parents’ home and make a living by working part-time at a restaurant. That’s why drugs are such a terrible thing. Even though he knows his life is falling into the abyss, he runs towards self-destruction.
Nam Tae-hyun, who is resolute in his determination to quit drugs, saying, “Drugs are a behavior that can ruin one’s entire life,” is Choi Jin-mook, a drug addiction recovery counselor. He is the director of Darc (Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center) in Incheon, Gyeonggi Province. Nam Tae-hyun is one of the five drug addicts admitted to Dark. Center Director Choi shares their joys and sorrows with them and helps them achieve sobriety. He awakens the forgotten sense of daily life by taking a trip to the sea or hiking together. His role is to silently listen to the words of addicts who are crying because they feel like they are going to die from ‘craving’ and to prevent them from breaking down.
The reason Director Choi is able to connect deeply with drug addicts is because he was also a serious drug addict. He calls himself ‘Matsu-hyung’ (the older brother who was trashed by drugs). After turning to drugs at age 17 to fit in with his friends, he spent 23 years using cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, and LSD.I abused my back. He was a 9th drug offender and was imprisoned for 8 years. He had been addicted to drugs for 23 years and had been abstinent from drugs for 10 years. <Avengers> met him at the Donga Ilbo building in Jongno-gu, Seoul on the 10th of last month. The secret to his success in quitting drugs, the reason for the rapid increase in domestic drug offenders, and solutions are explained on Dong-A Ilbo’s YouTube channel “Avengers” ( https :/You can also check it out at / www.youtube.com / watch ?v= cL3JGY6HG0E ).
―There is a saying, ‘It’s not about quitting drugs, it’s about enduring them.’ You said you have been drug-free for 10 years. Have you really quit drugs?
This is the most common question I get from addicts. Addicts who have not been able to quit drugs say they are ‘tolerating’. The reason I can say that I can quit drugs is because I have fallen to rock bottom. Drugs are only fun in the beginning, and after a while it becomes hell. When you get drunk on Philopon, your reason disappears and only your instincts remain. Memories of hurting my beloved family, father-in-law, and mother-in-law while under the influence of drugs haunt me. When I return to reality after doing all the things in my imagination, a feeling of shame dominates me. I can’t even watch dramas because of the memories of how I treated my family like a devil. Even when there is a scene where the family is eating, it reminds me of that time. Trauma remains not only for the victim but also for the perpetrator. Because I felt this so keenly, I never touched medicine for 10 years. I also quit drinking and smoking. Alcohol and cigarettes are the starting points of addiction. I changed my lifestyle habits.
Drugs are a powerful weapon that can avoid everything. If you take drugs, you can avoid anything that comes your way. What I learned while recovering is a life of not avoiding, a life of confronting and overcoming it. I don’t want to go back to how it was before.
―Is it common to abstain from medication for a long period of time like the center director?
It’s never easy. When you are addicted to drugs, everything in life becomes boring. The only fun thing to do is drugs, so would you give up easily? So, after quitting for 3 to 6 months, most people return to drugs. The 100th day is the most difficult. If 100 people quit medication, 50% will do so again within 100 days, and 50% of them will do so again within 6 months. Within a year, almost all addicts return to drugs. I also repeated that process for 23 years.
Quitting medication is relatively easy. What is much more difficult is rebuilding the life that was ruined by drugs. Everyone around me has left, my intelligence has declined, and I can’t find a job. Because it is difficult to live in society again, they fall into a vicious cycle of taking drugs again to escape reality. Starting anew after losing everything requires more will than taking a pill.
―’Craving’, which is the inability to endure without taking drugs due to withdrawal symptoms, is also the main reason for taking drugs again. Is there a way to control your cravings?
There are anti-craving drugs that suppress cravings, but methamphetamine does not have anti-craving drugs. This means that not all cravings can be suppressed with medication. What is more effective is ‘relationship’. Overcoming pain together and supporting each other is the best anti-craving drug. Do you know what the opposite of addiction is? These are ‘relationships’ and ‘exchanges’. When you use drugs, all human relationships are cut off and you become completely isolated. I don’t need any women, parents or friends, just me and drugs.
When you quit drugs, your relationships begin to rebuild. People who have many healthy relationships with people who support and cheer them on have an easier time breaking away from addiction. That’s why more rehabilitation centers like Darc should be created. Addiction treatment hospitals only provide detox. It’s not about temporarily abstaining from drugs, but to succeed in abstaining from drugs until the end, you need a relationship that you can rely on and overcome together.
He shares his 23 years of successful drug abstinence experience with DARK residents. We have opened a YouTube channel called ‘Matsuhyung’ and are also uploading ‘Drug Vlogs’ by DARK residents. It contains scenes of addicts suffering from cravings, working part-time at a restaurant, and participating in trials. Nam Tae-hyun, who recently entered the hospital, is also shown recovering his daily life by going on trips or eating out with the Dark family.
The reason Director Choi discloses the daily lives of drug addicts is because he believes that seeing them successfully quit drugs and returning to society will be a source of strength to other addicts. “Korean society views drug addicts as ‘monsters with horns’ and sentences them to ‘social death,’” he said, adding that celebrities who were addicted to drugs, including Nam Tae-hyun, should successfully quit the drug and play a role in informing youth about the dangers of drugs. says:
―What prompted you to start a ‘Sweet Vlog’ on ‘Matsuhyung’, a YouTube channel for addicts who have entered Dark, including Taehyun Nam? Revealing your face won’t be easy.
Some people are critical of it, saying, ‘Isn’t this for a commutation of sentences?’ There is no one who would go public and let the whole country know that they are addicted to drugs in order to receive a reduced sentence. There are also friends who make vlogs even though the trial has already ended and they have been punished. First of all, their will to recover was so strong that they started filming vlogs. Because your face and name are revealed, it becomes much more difficult to do bad things. It’s like putting shackles on yourself that force you to be weak. I also thought that the sight of addicts recovering well would be a source of strength to other drug addicts. Watching one addict’s process of quitting drugs itself is the most powerful motivation for other addicts to quit drugs. You gain the courage to say, ‘I can do it too.’
―There was controversy when it was announced that Big Bang’s T.O.P would appear in ‘Squid Game 2’. Celebrities who were controversial due to drug use, such as former TVXQ member Park Yoo-chun and idol iKON’s BI, are unable to return. The center director’s actions seem to be a little different from the social atmosphere.
Our country views drug addicts as ‘monsters with horns.’ A ‘social death sentence’ is given to anyone who has taken drugs even once. Overseas, there are many people, including Hollywood actors, who have recovered from addiction and are actively working. Drug use is a crime and should be punished. However, it is not beneficial to society at all to confine drug offenders to the frame of criminals and keep them hidden for the rest of their lives even after recovery. When addicts succeed in quitting their drugs and are able to live normal lives, the social cost is much lower. When influential people like (Nam) Taehyun or Yoo Ah-in undergo rehabilitation and return to society and share their experiences with addiction and drug abstinence with youth, the effectiveness of prevention education becomes much greater. Korean society is throwing away that opportunity.
―We see celebrities who enjoyed wealth and fame, including Nam Tae-hyun, Don Spike, and Yoo Ah-in, turn to drugs and have their lives fall apart. Do you think they can return to society?
There is a saying among addicts that ‘those who haven’t hit rock bottom can’t get better.’ I lost it little by little over the past 23 years, and since (Male) Taehyun and Yoo Ah-in were celebrities, they lost all their popularity, wealth, and fame in an instant. It came down from the top to the bottom. That’s probably why Taehyun came to visit me too. If he had anything left, he would never have come to see me. It was a choice that required tremendous courage, and with that courage, I took a golden opportunity to live again.
Drugs take away everything from human relationships to daily happiness, but the number of people turning to drugs is rapidly increasing. In the first five months메이저놀이터 of this year, the police arrested a total of 10,000 people in an intensive crackdown on drug offenders, which is equivalent to the total number of arrests last year (12,387 people). In particular, the number of teenage drug offenders increased more than three times compared to the same period last year. Amid self-deprecatory voices claiming that the country has become a ‘drug republic’ from a ‘drug-free country’, the government declared a ‘war on drugs’ and will invest 37 billion won next year in all processes from preventive education to addiction rehabilitation to prevent drug abuse. I did it. It has increased by more than 20 billion won from this year’s budget.
―It has become a thing of the past to say that Korea is a ‘drug-free country.’ Every year, the number of drug offenders, especially those in their teens and twenties, is rapidly increasing. What is the reason?
In the past, more than 70% of drug offenders were in their 40s and 50s, but now more than 60% are in their 10s and 30s. This is because it is a perfect environment for young people to obtain drugs. Compared to any other country in the world, our country has a fast internet connection and a high SNS penetration rate. An environment has been created where you can order drugs and have them delivered from anywhere. In particular, 99% of drug distribution takes place on Telegram. Telegram is known to have high security, and since its U.S. headquarters does not respond well to search and seizure requests from law enforcement agencies, most drugs are bought and sold through Telegram instead of KakaoTalk. I believe that limiting or eliminating the use of Telegram is an effective solution to winning the war on drugs.
―I think there are many teenagers who easily dabble in ‘soft drugs’ like cannabis. There are also some voices calling for the legalization of cannabis. Drugs that are relatively less addictive than ‘hard drugs’ such as
marijuana , LSD , ecstasy, ketamine, heroin, and methamphetamine are called soft drugs. The biggest problem with soft drug users is their way of thinking that there is no problem. People mistakenly believe that they are not addicted because they are relatively less addictive, but they habitually seek out the drug and turn to more addictive hard drugs. Soft drugs act as gateway drugs to hard drugs. No drug is absolutely safe.
―Please say something to people who are curious about drugs.
When you first get high on drugs, you may think you are happy and having fun. Because pleasure follows. But that was fake happiness. I thought happiness was contained in the pleasure that drugs give, but pleasure and happiness are completely different. When I look back, I feel really shabby and pitiful about the 23 years of life I spent chasing only pleasure like a racehorse. I don’t have a 20s or 30s because I devoted my life to drugs. Because there are only two things that go back and forth: prison and drugs. I hope that no one ever follows the same path as me. Drugs are a ticket to hell. Never a single curiosity.