Municipal CEDECs Needed
Michael Ortega Ligalig, editor-in-chief of this paper, encouraged me to put together in a book all what I have written in this column since I started writing it more than two years ago. He noted that most of what I have talked about deal with the drug addiction situation in Bohol, specifically about the need to provide rehabilitation assistance to illegal drug users, mostly young people victimized by their unfortunate choice to turn to drugs when faced with problems they could not handle.
I had a chance meeting with him last Tuesday when I came to the Bohol Tribune office to pick up copies of issues missing in my compilation from which our working student could clip news and opinion articles pertaining to the drug problem.
There was no time to tell Mike that I had already ten columnar pads with paste-ups not only of my columns but also drug-related stories from two other local papers. You can say I have been obsessed with this drug problem since I witnessed at close range how drug addiction could ruin personal and family life in our neighborhood.
But this is to sound like a broken record actually. Some three weeks ago, no less than the DILG Secretary praised the drug rehabilitation program of the province as a possible model for the rest of the country. The two drug rehab centers run by the private sector in Laya, Baclayon and in San Miguel have been operating much below their total capacity. One of them reduced their fee from Php25,000 per month to Php10,000 and still quite a few came.
Some faith-based groups have been doing their share to hold weekly spiritual activities with the surrenderees lasting for an hour or so usually in cooperation with the police to ensure attendance. In one town, the surrenderees reported only once for the meeting to plan livelihood projects they could engage in.
For the second meeting, only their mothers came. Our volunteers promptly organized a planning session for the livelihood projects they identified. Helping these families would also mean an intervention to ensure the continuing recovery of their members with drug addiction problem.
It’s possible normal times are here. We really have no way of knowing unless we go back to the results of the screening tool used to determine the addiction level of surrenderees and find out what exactly have reached them in terms of relevant interventions. More importantly, we need to find out if the surrenderees have recovered and are now about to lead normal, productive lives.
Despite what seems to be successful efforts to reduce the magnitude and scope of the drug menace in the province, I still suggest that we proceed with the plan for the municipalities to establish their own Center for Drug Education and Counseling (CEDEC) with the key task to coordinate a) the provision of counseling services and livelihood assistance to victims of illegal drug trade; b) monitoring and documentation of high-risk cases through the treatment and post-treatment phases; and c) conduct of strategic drug abuse prevention activities which will include promotion of culture and the arts to strengthen adherence to time-honored values and ensure resilience against illegal drug use.
The Municipal CEDEC can provide an institutional framework to have a specialized body at sub=provincial level to focus on the prevention, rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation aspects of work to address the drug abuse problem.
Through CEDEC, a comprehensive evaluation of current efforts to address the problem of drug addiction at local level. It can establish partnership with academic institutions, religious organizations and the private sector to carry out a comprehensive program. Documentation of specific cases of drug users who have recovered can be undertaken. More importantly, lessons can be draw on what combination of interventions has proven effective to address drug addiction and prevent relapse.
I hope we can eventually help establish a municipal CEDEC in our town, Baclayon, if only to prove we need a database to be more systematic in the provision of interventions for those affected with drug or substance use disorder. We thank the Baclayon LGU and Holy Name University in their support to the Database+Interventons Project. Now that we have around 50% of surrenderees in a database, there is substantial basis to proceed systematically with relevant interventions using available resources at local level.
With a database, it will be easier to write project proposals for more funding. Donors are more likely to support projects with a reliable monitoring and evaluation system to document outputs and, more importantly, the overall impact of interventions. It is hoped other LGUs will join this journey eventually to ensure milestones can be truly achieved and that preventive measures are firmly in place to prevent the recurrence of this serious social problem.
Let us support the establishment of local-level CEDECs. If such is done, I will start writing that book on this challenging journey. I need a happy and triumphant ending. For response, email firstname.lastname@example.org