On television, we see the different tact of municipalities after hundreds of drug users and pushers surrendered. There is zumba, there is mass singing of the popular song â€œBawalnaGamotâ€, there is drug symposium, and others.
By themselves, these are very good activities. But police directors recognize that these are not sustainable and the police force on their own cannot continue to monitor these forms of rehabilitation. They need community involvement.
What I am going to propose is a holistic and hopefully effective approach that requires the involvement of the whole community and established institutions.
Our basic premise is that change can only happen when the alternative is more reasonable, more gratifying or painful, and sustainable than the status quo. Now, surrendering is more reasonable because the alternative will be death (more painful) if they do not stop.
How do we make it more gratifying and consistent? Shabu gives a sense of high, directly affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain. This creates a craving that gets more intense. But getting hooked is not only biological, it is also psychological and social. The pull of peer pressure and environmental influences are so strong as well which gives the person a sense of thrill and pleasure also.
When an addict stops using drugs, he experiences withdrawal symptoms which can only be stopped by taking more of the drugs. When the symptoms set it, we need to offer social support and alternative activity that will more or less have the same pleasurable effect.
Physical exercise in general is one. Being accepted by others also give a good feeling. That is why it is important that the community needs to be accepting and nonjudgmental of those who are serious in their resolve to change. Praying and also worshipping also gives a sense of relief and peace as well as engaging in a work activity that gives a sense of flow.
These elements need to be present in our planned program. Through the initiatives of the Barangay and the support of the Mayor, a series of Life Change Seminars will be conducted weekly. Following the BioPsychoSpiritual Framework, the components of the seminar will be composed of talks and dynamic activities on the physiology and psychology of addiction. These can be handled by our doctors and experts in the community.
Now, we need the Holy Spirit in this endeavor. Without a spiritual component, a belief in a higher power, the program will fail. Studies have shown that Alcoholics Anonymous, the popular organization for alcoholics, is successful because of its highlight on the spiritual realm.
This is where the Church and renewal movements can come in. Our renewal movements and similar groups, led by the Holy Spirit, have accumulated dynamic practices that can effectively lead to the conversion and renewal of our brothers and sisters into drugs.
It needs to be observed that the families will have to participate in this endeavor also. They are significant actors in this activity. Attendance will be enforced by the Police and DSWD to make sure that those who surrendered will comply.
After the series of Life Changing experiences, what happens? This is where our Universities and similar institutions can come in. Through their research and extension mandate, they can adopt a Barangay and do the weekly cell group or household meetings to continue providing social support for the reformed addicts until such time that they become stronger than their urges to use drugs.
There has to be synergy in this endeavor. All the participating institutions need to convene, initiated by the mayor, to put together the program, taking into consideration the different aspects.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But as I said, this war on drugs will fail if we do not get involved and truly care for the future of our communities. Our systems are already in place. We only need to mobilize and effectively put together our efforts and work as one. (By Kit Nemenzo Balane)
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