Parish in Manila launches anti-drug dependency program

Khristine Montenegro
Parish in Manila launches anti-drug dependency program
This program will take a holistic approach – psychological, physical, spiritual, and social – to turn around the lives of drug dependents

MANILA, Philippines – In an effort to address drug abuse while safeguarding the dignity of users, a community-based program called Anti-Drug Dependency for LIFE Ministry was launched on Sunday, October 23, in Balic-Balic, Manila.

It is a collaboration among the Most Holy Trinity Parish, barangays in Balic-Balic, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Sampaloc Police Station.

Their main goal is to engage drug dependents in a holistic approach of rehabilitation, with involvement from other members of the community. (READ: Communities, private sector help is key in nationwide rehab program)

Dr. Clari Abay, an accredited physician from the Quezon City Anti-Drug Abuse Advisory Council, first thought of bringing in-house rehabilitation methods to the community of Balic-Balic. These methods are psychological, physical, spiritual, and social.

“Sa pamamagitan nito, we involve the community [and] the Church para makatulong sa pagbabago ng drug dependents,” he said.

(Through this approach, we involve the community and the Church to help turn around the lives of drug dependents.)

Abay explained that recidivists, or rehabilitated users who end up returning to drug dependency, partly relapse due to stigma from their community. (READ: Learning from Davao: Health chief eyes community-based drug rehab)

Long-term program

Last September, Abay led trainings for around 20 parish volunteers to discuss the concepts of drug dependence, the country’s anti-drug laws, and basic counseling methods.

The program is set for full implementation on November 5. By then, the volunteers will gather drug dependents who have surrendered and profile them alongside data from the PNP.

The surrenderers will undergo psychological testing to determine the initial method most suited for them. There will be up to 3 individual counseling sessions before the surrenderers are assembled in groups.

Abay also said the parish, barangays, and police precincts would arrange various activities as part of the rehabilitation program.

Surrenderers will be endorsed to the barangays for community service. The PNP, meanwhile, will continuously monitor the surrenderers while also providing lectures for them.

ADVOCATES' CREED. A Balic-Balic barangay chairman signs to pledge his commitment to the Anti-Drug Dependency for LIFE Ministry at the Most Holy Trinity Parish in Manila on October 23, 2016. Photo by Khristine Montenegro/Rappler

“The point is, we will make them busy na kung pagdating ng gabi, gusto na lang nila itulog para ‘di na sila mag-isip ng paggamit ng bawal na gamot,” Abay said.

(The point is, we will make them busy so that by the end of the day, they would rather sleep instead of thinking about taking drugs.)

After 3 months, surrenderers who are no longer dependent on drugs will undergo livelihood training with the help of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Caritas Manila, and local companies.

Those who remain under the influence of drugs will have to continue in the counseling program, and may be recommended for institutionalized rehabilitation under the supervision of the local government. (READ: DDB wants law institutionalizing community-based drug rehab)

From family to society

Parish priest Fr Erik Adoviso admitted it might be a challenge to convince drug dependents to participate since they can be in denial. “This time, you approach the family and how can you help them,” he said.

The families of the drug dependents will undergo counseling as well, since they play a vital role in the success of the rehabilitation.

WALK FOR LIFE. Volunteers, local officials, and policemen walk together in the 'Walk for Life' parade to spread the word about the program in Balic-Balic on October 23, 2016. Photo by Khristine Montenegro/Rappler

“The mission of the Church is total human development. It is not just spiritual, [but it is also] the holistic call of the Vatican II – total evangelization. It is not dualistic but it is holistic. That for me is salvation,” added Adoviso in a mix of English and Filipino.

Various government agencies and officials have been pushing for the strengthening of community-based rehabilitation programs amid the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

More than 4,400 deaths have been linked to the war on drugs since July 1 – both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings. (READ: Robredo: Roll out community drug rehab now to stem killings–

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