Wholistic grassroots intervention boosts recovery of drug addicts

MANILA-- An expert believes grassroots-based intervention can help promote successful and cost-effective rehabilitation of people dependent on illicit drugs who have surrendered to authorities nationwide.

Community involvement in drug recovery programs promotes a wholistic approach towards reducing the chance for relapse, noted Fr. Carmelo Diola, Dilaab Foundation Inc. chairperson, who has nearly two decades of experience in rehabilitating drug dependents.

"By getting our act together, we can reduce illegal drug use," he said.

Easier access to family support and community services are among the benefits of grassroots-based drug recovery programs for the surrenderers, said experts.

Official data show that the illegal drugs trade has already ballooned into a PHP120-billion industry, with an estimated existing market of some 4.7 million users of the contraband.

Studies show physical and mental health problems, crime, and erosion of one's potential are among the consequences of illegal drug use.

Diola urged all sectors to help the government fight the menace of illegal drugs.

"We must come together because we're faced with a 'Yolanda'-like scenario no sector can face alone," he said.

'Yolanda' (international name 'Haiyan') was the super typhoon that plowed through the central Philippines in November 2013, destroying an enormous swath of land and leaving a death toll exceeding 6,000.

Official data as of last April show that of the estimated 4.7 million illegal drug users nationwide, some 1.2 million have already surrendered to authorities.

Their surrender reduced the country's drug market by nearly 27 percent, the data showed. However, demand for illegal drugs could remain high with some 3 million people still hooked on these contraband items.

"There is still so much work to be done," said Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar.

He called on all sectors to help the government win the war against illegal drugs.

"We must work together and ensure winning such war," he said.

Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said the government's nationwide crackdown against illegal drugs led to an almost 29 percent reduction in index crimes in the country.

From almost 135,000 crimes during the July 2015-March 2016 period, both agencies said the number of index crimes dipped to 96,398 between July 2016 and March 2017.

Authorities associated illegal drug use with the commission of a number of such crimes.

Citing the period July 1, 2016 to March 31 this year, they said there were 9,432 local homicide cases under investigation, of which almost 20 percent or 1,847 are drug-related, they said.

Diola cited the Labang community-based program in Cebu province as one model for the wholistic grassroots approach he is advocating to help prevent the rehabilitation-relapse cycle that drug-affected surrenderers are susceptible to.

"For me, it's the missing link," he said.

According to Diola, the Labang program he's helping spearhead covers evaluating the surrenderers and building up their psychosocial capability.

"There was already something broken in them before they did drugs," he noted.

Labang also involves providing the surrenderers livelihood training and helping them reintegrate into society, he continued.

"We need to come together to overcome a culture of shared and learned helplessness," he said.

Labang fuses the Filipino words 'lahat' (all) and 'bangon' (rise) to reflect the program's thrust.

According to Diola, participation in Labang costs some PHP3,200 per person per month, way below the minimum PHP30,000 per month that rehabilitation centers usually charge clients.

Source: Philippines News Agency