OPINION: Addiction

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Oct 07 2016 10:16 PM

Addiction is a symptom of a bigger problem. And though the bigger problem seems to have been accepted as part of life, the victims of this problem are the ones paying such a high price without getting relief. Addiction is only one of the effects of this “bigger problem,” which is poverty.

As an identified patient, an addict is like the child who suddenly “acts up,” causes trouble and embarrassment and is then sent to a counselor. Does one shoot a child whose grades suddenly plummet—or who suddenly withdraws from his or her own family? 

While it is true that someone addicted to substances can pose great danger—and in fact, hurt, maim or even kill others (besides stealing from them), a closer look at why that person got there is important.

Individuals hooked on substances have the option to enter rehabilitation centers if they can afford it. They can avail of counseling there, along with their families. But larger groups of substance abusers need something else— something more than just rehab and counseling. 

Knowing why and not just how a person becomes an addict would be more useful than just killing them off. Other addictions may surface or develop, just as other substances may be used to “get high”—so the important thing is to address what makes them do it.

Education, jobs, alternative livelihood, sports, poverty eradication—other ways of addressing these problems—not wiping these addicts out may be the solution. Because in the end, we become worse creatures if we just kill them like that. 

While it is true that apprehending the pushers and everyone else in the chain is a big step, it seems like there is a bias in favor of the powerful ones. Their pawns are the ones getting killed!

Perhaps, looking into the different kinds of pastoral help could provide a perspective that is more respectful of human rights. “Because human beings are a mixture or synthesis of spirit and nature, their behavior is a product of both free decision and various forms of conditionedness,” writes Donald Browning in Clinical Handbook of Pastoral Counseling. 

To say that these addicts are not human and that they deserve to die denies this belief.

Come to think of it, even the hardest of hearts sometimes succumbs to a cute puppy wagging its tail or a kitten trapped on the branch of a tree. If hard hearts can feel for these creatures, I would imagine that it would be easier to feel sympathy at least, for other humans.

The crusade against drugs is truly laudable, but summary killings are not. Summary executions deprive victims, perpetrators and onlookers (who would not lift a finger to prevent them) their dignity and humanity.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.