Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

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Diocese backs healing of drug users thru holistic approach
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

The Diocese of Baguio has started establishing centers in some parishes and communities in the city and Benguet in a bid to help victims of drug abuse, in support of the government’s drive against illegal drugs.

These centers are part of the church’s holistic plan of dealing with the drug problem, called Project New Hope: Leveled-up, which is a corroborative spin of the Oplan Tokhang: Reloaded drive of the Philippine National Police on the illegal drug trade.

Fr. Manny Flores Jr., ministry director, said Project New Hope aims to convey to people that something can be done with the drug problem and there are ways of helping people change without sowing a culture of fear.

Among the programs given in these hubs is the acu-detox or acupuncture and detoxification intervention meant for mild to moderate drug users.

Flores said the intervention, under the case management aspect of Project New Hope, is seen as a first step in managing a drug dependent before they undergo counseling or series of lectures.

“The church is doing its best to make the program holistic. We saw that this (step) is needed first, kasi kahit magsalita ka ng magsalita sa kanila ng magaganda pero lumalaban naman ang isip nila, it would be useless,” Flores said.

He said they need detoxification, which does not only refer to cleansing the body of toxins, drugs in this case, but also deals with stress and depression, considered some of the common reasons some individuals turn to drugs.

The family of the drug user is included in the case management, as another step to holistic reform. “One way for them to be cured and reformed is making sure everyone is on board, and true enough, if the use of drugs is an illness, the response should be changing “I” to “we.” Kahit na tinutulungan ng surrenderee ang sarili n’ya, buthisimmediate family or the people around him are not mindful or supportive, ito ang dahilan minsan kung bakit nagre-relapse sila.”

Flores added that drug users in severe cases are not covered in these centers, as they would be requiring specialized and more complex treatments.

He said the establishment of the centers has already been started, though they are still on the process of equipping the parishes and certain communities. The endeavor entails help from volunteers and funds.

Prevention, another aspect of Project New Hope, focuses on the formation of mindset by community members, particularly students, by teaching and informing them of the essentials in order to keep them from illegal drugs.

A group is in charge of the development of modules that would cover the various aspects of illegal drugs, and these will be introduced in some pilot schools within the diocese’s jurisdiction.

The church is also strengthening efforts on the aspect of counseling, which has been a primary role of the Church that it has been doing even before the war on illegal drugs has been made a priority under the current administration.

Flores said they do not like to believe that there is a church and state separation. “We would like that there is church-state relationship that’s why on our part we do our best that our services complement that of our government. We will be working so that the surrenderees will have a change in their lifestyle, go back to their normal senses, and return as active citizens,” he said.

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