DAVAO CITY - Since the start of the Duterte administration, the Davao City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC) has recorded more than 11,000 former drug users in the city, with most of them surrendering due to fear of the government's war against illegal drugs.
Aside from drug rehabilitation facilities, CADAC also engaged in community-based rehabilitation for low-risk former drug users.
Among the institutions with initiatives to help the government curb drug problems is the University of the Immaculate Concepcion (UIC) in Davao City.
Its "Kaduyog Sagop Kinabuhi Program" was launched in January this year, and it has since yielded good results.
Last Saturday, 29 former drug users finished a 6-month program after undergoing various phases of rehabilitation: physiological, psychological, social, spiritual, and economic.
Among the activities were medical and nutritional assessment, monthly random clinical drug screening to monitor if they have resorted back to drug abuse, rehabilitation sessions such as topics on external and internal factors that could trigger their illegal drug addiction, individual and group counseling, and sports and wellness activities.
"Ang amoa is we really care for life. So among ginatan-aw nga naa pay chance, naa pa silay opportunity nga mag-change for the better, nga instead nga mamahimong liability sa society, mahimo silang asset sa society," said Dr. Corazon Umblero, director of UIC’s Community Development Service.
(We really care for life. We are positive that there is still a chance, that they still have an opportunity to change for the better. Instead of becoming a liability to the society, they can be an asset to the society.)
CHANGING FOR THE BETTER
Fernando Maceren, a former illegal drug user, shed tears of joy as he delivered his graduation speech.
He said he is determined to change, after being successful in his third attempt of going through rehabilitation.
"Lisod kaayo kung malulong ka, perting lisora, didto nahimong miserable akong kinabuhi sulod sa baynte ka tuig, nawala tanan sa akoa, ang pamilya nako, nagbulag mi, kay di naman ko. di naman nako magampanan ang responsibilidad sa ilaha ba," he said.
(It's really difficult when you get addicted. My life became miserable for 20 years. I lost everything. I cut my relationship with my family because I wasn’t able to fulfill my responsibilities to them.)
Maceren said he is willing to share his experiences and facilitate sessions in his community to help drug dependents overcome their addiction.
"So karon, makaingon gyud ko nga midaog gyud ko. Ka-gwapo na sa akong kinabuhi karon unya galgalon ko ninyo ana, dili na tama na," he said.
(Now I can say that I won in battling drug addiction. I am contended with my life now and you can't persuade me to use illegal drugs again.)
"Addiction is not a choice, so they need our help," Umblero said.
The rehabilitation process will not end after 6 months as the university and the community are still conducting an aftercare program, which will take reformists more than a year to completely overcome drug addiction.