While there is a need to address concerns on the readiness of facilities to provide interventions to surrendering drug users, the Dangerous Drugs Board considers this a ‘happy problem’.

Submission of pushers and users alike to the police is a good incident for the DDB. “They are now the ones coming to us, willing to stop their illegal activities,” explained DDB Chairman, Secretary Felipe L. Rojas, Jr.

For those involved in illegal drug trade, the DDB maintains that they answer to the law. But for users, the DDB believes they must be provided with interventions in the form of treatment and rehabilitation.

“Drug use is a disease. We must give those who have fallen prey to drugs a chance to be treated and reintegrated into the society as productive individuals,” Sec. Rojas said.

Under Section 54 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, drug users can voluntarily submit to treatment and rehabilitation. The DDB, however, clarified that this can only be availed by individuals with no pending cases in court.

The user or parent or any relative within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity may apply a petition for voluntary submission to treatment and rehabilitation with the DDB or any DDB-authorized representatives. A police and court clearance must be submitted along with the application.

The DDB explained that not all drug users will have to undergo residential treatment and rehabilitation.

Upon filing of the petition, the user will be subjected to a Drug Dependency Examination (DDE) by a DOH-accredited physician. This is conducted to determine the appropriate intervention for the patient. If found to be a drug dependent, the patient is recommended for a residential treatment and rehabilitation. For experimenters or occasional drug users, counseling or an out-patient program is proposed.

With the sudden influx of users submitting to treatment, the DDB understands that there are concerns on the availability and readiness of facilities to accommodate these patients. The DDB will convene a special meeting of its Treatment and Rehabilitation Committee chaired by the Department of Health on the first week of July to address these concerns.

Similarly, the establishment of community-based treatment and care facilities will also be discussed. Last September, the DDB and DOH launched the manual on the establishment of community-based treatment and care services, supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The DDB calls on the help of local government units to support the establishment and operations of these facilities and non-government and faith-based organizations that can provide out-patient services.

“Participation of all local government units and also the help of organizations with the capacity to provide treatment and care services for people who use drugs is crucial in addressing what we now regard as a happy problem,” Sec. Rojas said.

“Drug users coming to us and voluntarily submitting themselves to treatment and rehabilitation is a welcome change. The government will continue to work hard to provide appropriate services and interventions to these patients,” he added.

At present, there are 45 residential treatment and rehabilitation facilities in the country, 18 of which are government and 27 are privately-owned. There are also one government and two private out-patient centers.