Ex­pert: Shame cam­paign not help­ing de­pen­dents

The Freeman - - NEWS - — May B. Mi­asco/JMD

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.

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