Reports of drug related crime are common in the Philippines media. The main concern tends to be towards Shabu which gets the most media attention. It does seem that illegal drug use is on the rise, and this has worrying implications for the future. There is an urgent need to educate young people as to the dangers of drug use, and there is also a great need to help those who are already addicted to escape their misery. Failure to do this could mean there will be further deterioration within many Filipino communities.
A US government report in 2009 concluded that illegal drug use was a significant problem in the Philippines due to corruption and poor law enforcement. There was particular concern expressed about the amount of methamphetamine (shabu) and cannabis production in the area. Drug addiction appears to be on the rise in the Philippines. There are believed to be as many as 6.7 million drug abusers according to figures from 2004- this is a dramatic increase from 1972 when there was only believed to have been around 20,000 drug users in the Philippines. The drug that is most abused in the Philippines continues to be Alcohol – they are the second highest consumers of alcoholic drinks in South East Asia.
The most commonly abused drugs in the Philippines include:
* Methamphetamine (locally known as Shabu)
* Inhalants such as nitrates and gasoline. These can be a cheap way for people to get high.
* Ecstasy (MDMA)
One of the most abused drugs in the Philippines is a local type of methamphetamine mixed with caffeine known as Shabu. This stimulant is believed to be the drug of choice for 90% of the Philippines illegal substance users. This is a powerfully addictive drug that can cause people to have intense hallucinations and become extremely paranoid. Some users of this drug have even jumped off high rise buildings because they believed they could fly. Shabu didn’t arrive in the Philippines until the mid eighties, but it soon became hugely popular among drug users. Methamphetamine causes feelings of euphoria and the user feels full of energy.
Drug abuse leads to many problems such as:
* The individual does not have to be abusing a substance like Shabu long before they become addicted.
* Those individuals who become addicted can become obsessed with their habit. This means that everything else in their life will take second place.
* The individual’s behavior will change. They may become physically violent or engage in other types of bad behavior.
* Those who abuse these drugs can struggle to keep down a job. They may become unemployable.
* Young people who use these substances will be unable to perform well in school or college. This means that they will be limiting their future opportunities.
* When drug users run out of money to feed their habit they will be tempted to turn to crime. This may mean stealing from family and friends or from complete strangers.
* Many addicts fall into a life of crime and eventually end up in prison or worse.
* If the drug addict is unable to escape this behavior it is highly likely to lead to their death. This individual will shorten their lifespan as a result of their behavior.
* Illegal drug users run the risk of overdose. It can be difficult to assess the strength of illegal drugs, and it can be similar to playing a game of Russian roulette every time the addict uses these substances – it is even possible for people to die of an overdose after only trying illegal drugs one time.
The cost of drug addiction is high for the Philippines and it involves:
* A great deal of domestic violence is associated with drug abuse.
* A huge proportion of criminal acts are committed by individuals who are trying to satisfy their drug habit.
* The economy suffers because drug users become less productive in their jobs or they become unable to work completely.
* The government needs to spend large amounts of money on tackling drug problems. The resources used by law enforcement alone are a drain.
* Money that could be spent to improve the life of a family is wasted because one member is a drug addict. It can lead to a situation where the rest of the family is living in poverty while one of them wastes thousands of pesos each week on drugs.
* A criminal underworld had developed in order to take advantage of the desire for these illegal substances. The money made from selling drugs is used to finance other criminal acts as well as terrorism.
* Drug addict can destroy communities. It can lead to a situation where people are afraid to leave their homes because of fear of crime.
* The individual who falls into drug addiction can lose everything – including their own self respect. This miserable life is a waste of human potential.
There are a number of treatment options available to people in the Philippines who need help including:
* Narcotics Anonymous is a twelve step program that supports the individual to escape their addictions. This fellowship is not just focused on stopping the drug use but also on building a life worth living.
* There are a number of drug rehabilitation facilities in the Philippines including Serenity at the Quarry.
* It is becoming more common for Filipinos to go abroad to seek the most effective treatment for their addictions. Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia is based in Thailand and is considered to be one of the leading rehab in Asia.