AS MORE drug dependents surrender in the midst of a tougher campaign against illegal drugs, does Cebu have enough rehabilitation centers to help them change?
“Rehabilitation is the defining factor in the life of a drug dependent,” said Ligaya Moneva, spokesperson of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas.
According to a list provided by the Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Commission, 11 accredited rehabilitation centers operate in Cebu. That already includes both private and government-owned centers.
In 2015, these rehabilitation centers in Cebu were operating at full capacity, said Cebu City Office on Substance Abuse (COSAP) Chief Dr. Alice Utlang.
But capacity is no longer a problem, she added. Fewer than 1,000 individuals are currently undergoing treatment.
One problem, though, is that few centers have space for female patients.
To enter a private rehabilitation center, one would have to pay P15,000 to P45,000 a month. In government-owned centers, the fees reportedly range from P3,000 to P6,000 per month.
In a separate interview, Cebu City Police Office Director Benjamin Santos Jr. said that the police had planned to put up a rehabilitation center in Cebu to aid those who have recently surrendered.
“It’s easy to surrender but tomorrow they could go back. There needs to be sustainability,” said Santos in Tagalog.
It’s also important for rehabilitated individuals to find jobs after treatment, so they can contribute to the community, he added.
Last week, DOH 7 conducted seminars on after-care with former drug dependents who are about to work in or run rehabilitation centers.
“You cannot give what you do not have,” said Gen, who’s part of the staff of We Do Recover, a drug rehabilitation center in Lahug, Cebu City. She told Sun.star that most of the counselors and workers at We Do Recover are rehabilitated drug dependents.
Moneva also said that former drug users are the best people to help those who are struggling with drug dependency, because they know the situation first-hand.
But apart from rehabilitation and law enforcement, communities—particularly families and schools—also need to work on preventing drug abuse, a lawyer and anti-drug advocate said.
“Supply reduction of banned substances must be paralleled with demand reduction,” said lawyer Clarence Paul Oaminal.
Oaminal pointed out that Republic Act 9165 (the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) mandates the Department of Interior and Local Government to be the central agency in implementing family-based drug abuse prevention in the barangays.
“We should organize families to be insulated from and resistant to dangerous drugs,” he said.
RA 9165 also mandates the teaching of drug abuse prevention in all levels.
“Like all other laws, this has not been seriously implemented,” said Oaminal, a former vice chairman of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
Aside from families, law enforcers and government agencies going after illegal drug trade, Oaminal said “pastors and priests must use the pulpit and stage in campaigning with their flocks not to use drugs.”
The National Drug Education Program of DDB should also be strengthened, added Oaminal.
According to its website, the program is “currently implemented in elementary and secondary schools, in cooperation with DDB member-agency DepEd (the Department of Education).”
“We always forget the wisdom of the saying: ‘Prevention is always better than cure,’” said Oaminal. Angiela Mae H. Conte, USJ-R Intern