Expert: Shame campaign not helping dependents
A Cebu-based drug rehabilitation specialist has thumbed down on shame campaign as a way of fighting drug addiction.
Dr. David Baron said the shame campaign does not encourage drug dependents to seek treatment but rather shove them away.
“I see it as ineffective because you are not helping the person to be treated from drug addiction. Instead you put him in shame,” Baron told The FREEMAN yesterday.
Baron is the chief of hospital of the DOH-run treatment and rehabilitation center in Argao town, southern Cebu. He is also in the forefront of establishing community-based treatment and support services in the region for drug dependents.
A drug dependent, he noted, is usually reluctant to participate in community-based rehabilitation and treatment due to fear of embarrassment or humiliation.
“Remember, addiction is a disease already. You have to treat them and shouldn't put them to shame because they would rather shun away from people… Will you embarrass a sickly person?” Baron said.
Baron explained that a person uses illegal drugs for several reasons. For one, it may be due to one's mental state like having acquired depression or poor coping mechanism and low self-esteem.
Coming from a dysfunctional family or pressures from peers may also push one to take illegal drugs.
At the very least, Baron said shaming, as an anti-illegal drug campaign, promotes stigma among drug dependents that are commonly perceived as criminals.
“People will always connote things that if you are an addict, you commit crimes like stealing money because your body needs the drug. That may be the complications due to addiction because it's a chronic relapsing disease of the brain,” he said.
Baron said people find it difficult to control themselves if they get hooked to illegal drugs.
“As they continue using it, they become addicted to it… They become insane. They become mentally-ill. They will no longer be functional to the society as drugs become their life,” he said.
He added that using illegal drugs makes those inflicted escape from problems like self-pity and frustrations.
“They forget about those problems and they feel happy and they like that feeling,” said Baron.
Baron suggested that the best way to resolve the problem is through community involvement wherein all sectors in the society should engage with helping the drug dependent restore his wellbeing.
“No single entity has the luxury or monopoly of treating drug dependents. Spiritual, psychosocial should also be included (aside from the medical aspect). In other words, the treatment and rehabilitation should be holistic,” he said.
But the shame campaign is rather adverse, Baron said, since drug dependents are put to shame, therefore creating another problem shutting the person off from the opportunity of getting treated.
He said in this way, the community fails in its prime responsibility of assisting the person towards rehabilitating his condition.
“Do not push them away… You should confront the problem, solve the problem, and find an effective solution to that problem,” he said.