The Explainer: Drug Addicts

That was from the trailer of Clint Eastwood’s marvelous movie, “Changeling,” and it gives you a good idea of the dilemma citizens face, when confronted with officials more interested in scoring p.r. points than in actually addressing the citizenry’s problems.

In recent months, we’ve all seen screaming headlines about the drug menace. I think it’s fair to say that the overall trend in public opinion has been an overwhelming sense of frustration.
Everyone wants something done. As with so many things in our country, the problem is achieving a consensus on what ought to be done.

But tonight I thought we should focus on what everyone can do, within their own circle of influence: and that is, to be alert to the signs of addiction and step in to save a loved one from destroying their lives. But if an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, we need to look at the cure to addiction, too.

So it’s rehab night on the Explainer. I’m Manolo Quezon.


I.  Almost 1 in 10 are addicts


Few can dispute that there exists an awareness on the part of many citizens that illegal drugs presents a grave threat to society, and that this carries a corresponding desire on the part of many citizens for something to be done; and that law enforcement when it comes to the drug trade means tangling with mad, bad, and dangerous people.

These are mad, bad, and dangerous people from all corners of the globe and all parts of our country, who earn a living by smuggling, and manufacturing illegal drugs and selling them to the poor and the rich. Along the way, they influence, by bribery and intimidation, local and national governments.

For background, please visit our blog, www. The-explainer. Com for links to some informative readings.

There’s Aljazeera’s The shackles of shabu. It takes a look at the crystal meth, or Shabu trade in the Philippines, and the prominent role Chinese triads play in the manufacture and distribution of the drug.

See also Howie Severino’s Blood for Shabu. He tells the story of addicts who sell their blood so as to have money to pay for their addiction.

See also the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s report, Ecstasy party pill; shabu drug of choice.

Recently, Vera Files, an independent investigative journalism blog that should be on every concerned citizen’s bookmarks, has reported that  As ‘shabu’ price rises, Ecstasy use up, and along the way puts forward chilling official statistics on drug use:



The numbers are staggering, when you consider our ninety million plus population. Six percent hooked on shabu alone means million Filipinos; in the case of the party drug Ecstasy.

More recently, stories have started cropping up, pointing to N. Mindanao tagged as RP’s new illegal drugs capital while there are other areas of the country long blighted by what’s called Narcopolitics: Calabarzon ‘narco-politics’ under watch.

Indeed PDEA says Narcopolitics’ a factor in 2010 polls, and yet assuming (as I do) the good, even noble, intentions of the young officers in PDEA, this still brings up the need for caution.


And yet, as the Roman saying goes, who will guard the guardians?

This is something the Philippine Daily Inquirer warned about in its editorial, “Narcopolitics.”

But let’s set aside the political and law enforcement aspects of the problem, but rather, look at what you might have to do, if you suspect a loved one is falling into the clutches of addiction.

The long but potentially rewarding road to rehabilitation, when we return.


II.  The basics of addiction


That scene from “Trainspotting”, where one of the characters tries to recover a heroin suppository, made cinematic history. Among other things, there’s a similar scene in this year’s Oscar nominated Slumdog Millionare.

“Trainspotting” makes the point that there is nothing cool, or uplifting, in drug addiction. It is dirty, disgusting, and dangerous. Addiction makes people do crazy and fatal things.

But what is addiction? Tonight we have with us two guests, both from the Dare Foundation. Incidentally, by way of full disclosure, I sit on the board of this foundation, but hopefully tonight our guests will speak as representatives of the entire community that tries to rehabilitate the lives of addicts.

So let’s start with some basic pointers prepared for us by DARE.

When we return, we’ll look at what happens as people on the road to rehabilitation, face the challenge of reintegrating themselves with society.


III. Continuing treatment


Still with us are our guests from DARE, and let’s look at the AfterCare process.


My view


Let me close with a reminder that we should be careful about brushing aside what some call “technicalities” in the law. When anyone’s life, liberty, or property are at stake, “tehcnicalities” are everything.

This is because aside from the harsh and disturbing realities of the drug menace, how it destroys lives and corrodes and corrupts our institutions, there is another reality we have to confront, and that is, the prevalence of official extortion and the flipside of the impunity the wealthy and well-connected exhibit when it comes to the justice system -the non-wealthy and non-connected, if targeted unfairly by the authorities, are completely at the mercy of officialdom.

But it all points to the problem that the best way to tar and feather anyone is to bring up the “D” word. Another insight into the uphill struggle for those insisting on a scrupulous regard for rules of evidence and so forth, is the obvious skepticism with which government lawyers’ actions are often met.


Manuel L. Quezon III.

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