TikTok series Finding Juliana looks at drug abuse, addiction up close

The TikTok series Finding Juliana explores the complexities of drug abuse and addiction through a personal lens. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - A young woman suddenly goes missing, with drugs her only companion.

Meanwhile, her worried friend searches frantically for her, holding out hope that she is not too late, wondering if she should have intervened earlier.

Set against the backdrop of youth navigating their identities and relationships, the TikTok series Finding Juliana explores the complexities of drug abuse and addiction through a personal lens.

The series, announced on Thursday by the National Council Against Drug Abuse, marks the start of a two-year anti-drug campaign called What's Your Fix?

Dr Chew Tuan Chiong, vice-chairman of the council, said the campaign aims to spark conversations on the realities of drug use, as well as promote advocacy of a drug-free society, especially among youth.

Acknowledging the growing divisiveness in perceptions on drug-use, he stressed the importance of establishing a common understanding to promote meaningful discourse.

He said: "Our goal is to encourage people to make clear choices against apathy and permissiveness on drug abuse, and to help those around them who may be vulnerable."

According to 2021 statistics from the Central Narcotics Bureau, young people make up the majority of first-time drug abusers, with three in five offenders aged below 30.

In 2021, 561 people aged below 30 were arrested for first-time drug offences. This group made up 60 per cent of all first-time drug offenders arrested last year.

While this figure was lower than the 62 per cent in 2020, youth here continue to hold increasingly liberal attitudes towards drug use, the council found in its annual surveys.

To reach out to them, the Finding Juliana series hopes to engage young people in active discussions and various activities via the campaign's microsite, as well as through the help of TikTok influencers like Nicole Liel and Zhin Sadali.

Five teasers will be put up on the campaign's TikTok account @whatsyourfixsg from Friday till Sept 28, while the series, which has 21 episodes, will go live from Oct 2 to 11.

This will then culminate in a TikTok live event on Oct 15 at 8pm, where a 25-minute film that chronicles Juliana's journey will be screened on the social media platform. This will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

National Council Against Drug Abuse vice-chairman Dr Chew Tuan Chiong (left) and Architects of Life founder Glenn Lim Kern Nien signing a Memorandum of Understanding on Sept 22, 2022. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Next year, the campaign will roll out a documentary series that features the real-life people who inspired the Finding Juliana series.

They include ex-offenders and their loved ones, as well as individuals from Architects of Life, a social enterprise that focuses on training and mentoring young people at risk, ex-offenders and disadvantaged individuals.

Mr Glenn Lim, founder and chairman of Architects of Life, said it was heartening to work together with the council in outreach and intervention programmes.

"As a social enterprise, we strive to empower youth at risk and ex-offenders to help transform them. Through this partnership, we hope to do our part and contribute towards... a drug-free society."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.