SOME 33 drug surrenderers are now ready to return to the fold of society after completing a six-month community-based outpatient rehabilitation program in La Trinidad, Benguet.

A former drug user, "Oliver" said drugs almost destroyed his life, and his job as a vegetable disposer at the La Trinidad trading post.

Thanks to the program, Oliver together with his fellow former drug users, said they are slowly embracing the change in their lifestyle and hopefully won’t return to using drugs again.

But Dr. Clarette Rosario of the Out Patient Clinic Department of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center said the first six months is only the first few steps the drug surrenderers needs to undertake before they are declared drug free.

This will include an 18 month under care program to be handled by the local government unit that will include education, counseling, and self help sessions.

“We are very happy with the result of the rehabilitation,” said Rpsario. “But change is not easy and steps to recovery should include hard work because of the possibility of relapse.”

Aside from undergoing series of lectures by the police, the drug surrenderers also underwent regular treatment from health workers and counseling from social workers so they can abandon the use of illegal drugs.

Close to 80 drug surrenderers were earlier validated as bonafide residents of the town and were subjected to the six-month community-based and outpatient rehabilitation program designed to integrate them into mainstream society out of the 236 who surrendered to the police at the height of the government’s crackdown on illegal drugs in the municipality but only 33 completed the six month program.

Mayor Romeo Salda lauded the efforts of the surrenderers for their dedication and participation in the program as he hopes they will serve as inspiration to others.

Chief Inspector Benson Macliing, chief of the La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, meanwhile, noted the number of crimes in the municipality has gone down following the intensive campaign of the combined police operatives and anti-narcotics agents to curb the illegal drugs trade and use in the municipality and sustain the implementation of peacekeeping initiatives geared towards making the town a better place to study, work, live and do business.