Editorial: Junkies are humans

PEERS can pressure a youth to turn to drugs. That’s been demonstrated often enough.

However, can peers steer a youth to turn away from going down the wrong path?

The Cebu Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Office (CPADAO) will test this approach through its Barkada Kontra Droga (BKD). Launched recently, the BKD involves 160 student leaders and 165 teachers from public and private schools in Cebu Province, reported Apple Grace C. Danuco, Sun.Star Cebu intern from the University of San Jose-Recoletos, on Aug. 23.

Good influence

The BKD aims to educate youths so they will not be drawn into experimenting with drugs. Included in the program’s four phases are trainings on “life skills and livelihood”.

The CPADAO is collaborating with the Department of Education (DepEd) through the teachers’ involvements, as well as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) for the livelihood trainings.

In highlighting institutional stakeholders, the BKD promotes the widespread adoption of these interventions to cover schools that are outside the urban centers. Illegal drug use has seeped to the grassroots; there is a need to go to the peripheries and reach out to community-based youths.

However, the concept of tapping the “barkada (close friends or peers)” is worth pursuing. A youth spends more time with his or her friends than with parents or other adults.

In schools, peer counselors are trained to reach out to their fellow youths as their age, interests, and other affinities may make them more sensitive in recognizing and responding to the vulnerabilities that make some youths at risk of drug experimentation and addiction.

The CPADAO should consider expanding the involvement of youths who may not necessarily be student leaders but have the qualities that make them approachable and effective as ambassadors of a drug-free lifestyle.

Achievers, student leaders, and other campus figures are often perceived as exceptional and thus, different from ordinary students, many of whom wrestle with personal and familial challenges that other youths who are more well-adjusted and confident have never dealt with.

The capability to feel sympathy and empathy for delinquent students, non-performers and other problematic youths must also be essential if the barkada is to exercise a good influence and counter the false promises of escapism with which drugs seduce the young.

Faith and family

Another approach in community-based rehabilitation for drug dependents is to bring back into focus the importance of faith and family.

“Surrender to God (SuGod) Drug Recovery Program” was conducted recently for 65 drug users and pushers from Aug. 14 to Aug. 23, reported Sheila C. Gravinez of Sun.Star Superbalita (Cebu).

The 10-day live-out community-based seminar taught participants how to avoid using drugs again. Organizers emphasized, though, that the complete recovery and rehabilitation of drug dependents will be determined by their family’s support.

Thus, weekly fellowships involving the 65 seminar graduates will follow up on the program’s interventions.

Shouldering the expenses of conducting the program were The Love of God Community and Kaalam Foundation, Inc. Supporting the appeals of the government, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has appealed to the laity to provide affordable and effective drug rehabilitation programs to enable former users to reform and move away from drug dependence.

The War on Drugs has caused a national and international furor over the rising number of deaths of drug suspects. Individuals and sectors have disagreed with the extrajudicial killings and the public shaming campaign as solutions for drug abuse and its roots in poverty and exploitation.

As revealed to Sun.Star Superbalita (Cebu) by Fe and Rafaelito Barino, who started Kaalam Foundation Inc., the SuGod Drug Recovery Program was the couple’s response to 46 of their employees who tested positive in a drug test.
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