More Davao drug addicts voluntarily seek treatment

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 December)— More drug dependents have voluntarily submitted themselves for treatment in the outpatient and aftercare center here, an official from the Center for Health Development (OCD) in Region 11 said.

Rustum Fanugao, Jr., program manager of the CHD-11 Outpatient and Aftercare Center for Drug Dependents, said in an interview Thursday the center handled more patients this year than in 2011, with most of the patients submitting themselves voluntarily for treatment.

He cited that the number of outpatients served by the center increased from 13 last year to 22 this year.

Since 2004, the center has handled almost 400 drug dependents coming from the region and from as far as the Cotabato area, he added.

Shabu, the “poor man’s cocaine,” and marijuana were the most abused illegal drugs, Fanugao said.

He told MindaNews that such “good news,” referring to the voluntary submission for treatment of drug addicts, is a result of a multi-sectoral approach in the advocacy campaign against drug addiction.

Fanugao noted that the CHD-11 is a part of an interagency group that also includes the police, local government units, religious leaders, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

First nationwide

The newly constructed two-story building of the Outpatient and Aftercare Center for Drug Dependents located at the CHD-11 compound here had a soft opening last Thursday.

It was the first government-run outpatient and aftercare center for drug dependents nationwide, Fanugao said.

He said the Office of the President allocated P7 million for the infrastructure, while the Department of Health (DOH) will provide funds for operational expenses.

Fanugao said that the DOH-11 proposed the establishment of the center to the Office of the President in February 2011, and the budget was released in April this year.

“The proposal gave a big impression to the Office of the President because of the outcome of our services,” he said.

Free of charge, the services offered in the center include drug dependency examination, psychosocial and social evaluations, home visitation, urine drug test, group and individual sessions, and family counseling.

“We also try to provide common medicines for the patients’ maintenance such as for hypertension and anti-depressant,” Fanugao said.

He said the target outpatients are employees, students and drivers, noting that everybody is welcome to be treated in the center for free.

The aftercare program is an 18-month follow-up treatment for patients who were temporarily discharged from a rehabilitation center, he explained.

Fanugao said that while the center has only eight staff members, including a psychologist and a social worker, it has 80 community partners composing the “after care team” deployed to districts and municipalities in the region.

Currently, the center can only handle up to 70 outpatients undergoing a long-term program at the same time, he said, adding there are plans to expand the capacity of the center.

Having seven outpatients and 69 patients for aftercare program, the center is working at its ideal capacity at present, Fanugao said.

Economical approach

Fanugao said the center has proven that outpatient program in treating drug dependents is an economical approach.

The monthly operational expenses of the center is at least P50,000, which covers the salaries of the staff, snacks for every session and drug test kits, he said.

He said the Colombo Plan International, an international non-government organization, has expressed its intentions to assist the center’s operations through additional staff and materials for information and education in two years.

At current rates, a stay-in patient spends about P60,000 for a six-month drug rehabilitation program in a government facility, but pays about P25,000 per month or a total of P150,000 in a private facility.  (Lorie Ann A. Cascaro/MindaNews)