Rough Cuts | Why so many quit rehab program

HERE is this very sad news. We are referring to reports published in Davao City’s local dallies that there is a high dropout rate among those involved in the use of illegal drugs who surrendered at the height of Operation Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and went on rehabilitation program.No less than Ms. Conie Dumag, director of the Rehabilitation Program Research and Data Management of the City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC), said that some 1,826, or 46 percent of the 3,895 who joined the Community-based Rehabilitation and Aftercare Program (CBRAP) for drug-dependents abandoned the 24-month activity.

Even more disturbing is that most of the so-called “defaulters” even attended only one session, according to Dumag.

She blamed lack of support from the barangay governments as the main factor of the abandonment by the drug-dependents of their intention to detoxify their body system from the addictive effect of the drug.

Not only that the barangay governments are not providing financial assistance to those who volunteered to have themselves rehabilitated, there is also a clear absence of motivation for them to continue reporting to the rehabilitation centers.

Sad indeed; but this situation was, from the very beginning of the massive anti-illegal drugs campaign of the present administration, already seen as potential humps to attain the one other important aspect of the drive  — to bring back the drug dependents to normal and productive life.

Yes, while it is true that there is a law mandating the barangays to appropriate some amount to support the drug-dependents’ rehabilitation program, not all barangays have similar level of revenues from where such budget could be taken.

As mentioned by Ms. Dumag, one major financial need of the program participants is transportation expense in reporting to the center and back home. Then there is this need for the participants to have something to buy snacks and their meals.

Let it not be forgotten that majority of those who volunteered to go into rehabilitation as a result of the “Tokhang” program of the PNP are members of households belonging to the highly disadvantaged sector of society.

Hence, for the parents to set aside a budget from out of their very meager income to fund the fare and meals requirements of their sons or daughters in going to and from the rehab facility would already be a very tall order.

Thus, with the absence of any funding support from the government — whether coming from the barangay, the city (Local Government Unit), or the national government – the desire of the program participants to continue could be gone. And being in their respective barangays where they are exposed to the influence of those persons who had driven them to the vice, the temptation to go back to their old habit becomes too difficult to resist.

Worst, the “defaulters” or program drop-outs could even evolve into notorious pushers. They need to find money to sustain their renewed vice. And they are expected to become more vulnerable to the enticement to sell illegal drugs because the come-on of the suppliers is to initially allow the drug dependents to take hits for free. And when hooked into the vice and they have no money, the suppliers push them to sell the illegal drugs so that what they earn from the transactions will give them the cash to procure the illegal substance.

Clearly, this issue of high drop-out rate from those drug-dependents who have joined the community-based rehabilitation program now brought quite vividly into the open, should serve as warning to the authorities at all levels of governance. That is, it is imperative for parallel plans to be crafted to address the potential consequences of the implementation of the main program of stamping out the country’s illegal drugs problem.

At the local level the CADAC should have proposed allocation of funds in the city’s annual budget specifically for transportation expenses of program participants from their residence to the rehabilitation facility and back to their home. And they can even add snacks and meal allowance in order to totally relieve the poor parents of any added burden in having their sons or daughters put into the program.

Possibly the barangays can be given another role such as regular monitoring of the program participants. They can also be mandated to seek partners and/or sponsors for the conduct of livelihood trainings, or even fund providers for whatever small enterprise the participants plan to go into after their completion of the program.

Posted in Opinion