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81.6% approves of the government’s anti-drug campaign

Around 1.67 million or two out of one hundred Filipinos aged 10 to 69 are current users of drugs, according to the results of the 2019 National Household Survey on the Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse, released by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

The 2019 Drug Survey estimates the current user prevalence rate at 2.05 percent, significantly lower than the 2018 global estimates of 5.3 percent published in the World Drug Report 2020.

Noting the results of the 2019 Drug Survey and comparing it to the estimates of 4 Million Filipino drug users in 2016 based on anti-drug operations and intelligence data, it shows a clear significant decline which can be attributed to the success of the government’s anti-drug campaign and steadfast priority given by the government to create drug-free communities under the current administration.

The survey also gave light on the number of lifetime users. Based on the 5.8% lifetime user prevalence rate, about 4.73 million or six out of every 100 Filipinos aged 10-69 tried drugs at least once in their life.

Results also indicate high public awareness and approval of the government’s anti-drug campaign. It showed that the directions and programs that the government has undertaken under the current administration have been proven effective as evidenced by the public’s acceptance of the government’s anti-drug campaign and the drop in the user prevalence rate.

Based on the survey, it can be concluded that the government not only succeeded in flattening the user prevalence rate but has also reversed the trend.

Trends in drug use

Cannabis or marijuana (57%) was found to be the most commonly abused dangerous drug followed by methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu (35%).

For lifetime users, the average age when most of them started trying drugs is 22 years old. Of the current users, on the other hand, most belong to the age group of 18-59 years old.

Perception on drug use

In terms of the general public’s awareness of dangerous drugs and substances, shabu was seen to be the most well-known at 47.9% followed by marijuana at 35%. When respondents were again asked about other dangerous drugs or substances that they may be aware of, they mentioned cocaine.

Most of the respondents are also aware of the negative effects of drug use such as problems on health, separation from family, and damage on self-image.

When asked about institutions or people that would be helpful to those who use drugs, 42.2% of the respondents considers the household to be the most helpful, followed by the police at 33.9% and the local government at 26.1%.

Risky Behavior

The survey also gave an insight to the connection of other risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking to drug use. It was found that those who started smoking at 15 years old and below have greater chances of becoming drug users than others. In the same way, those who started drinking at 18 years old and below are more likely to be drug users than others.

Awareness of and Reception to the Government’s Anti-Drug Campaign

About 65.8% of respondents are aware of the government’s campaign against drugs. Of those who are aware, 81.6% approves of the campaign. A high number of respondents also believe that the current drug situation under the present administration has slightly improved (34.7%) to greatly improved (45.5%).

About the 2019 Drug Survey

The 2019 survey was undertaken by the DDB in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and i-Metrics Asia Pacific Corporation. In line with the institutionalization of the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy, the survey was conducted to determine the lifetime and current user prevalence rates, patterns, and trends of drug abuse in the country.

The DDB urges all partners and stakeholders to “make the best use of the data and information from the 2019 Drug survey to strengthen anti-drug programs and initiatives programs, and policies, particularly on preventing young people from engaging in risky behaviors that may lead to drug use.”

Respondents of the survey are Filipinos aged 10-69 randomly selected from 9,341 households in all the 17 regions of the country. With the sample size and at a 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 1.01%.

Initial preparation for the survey started as early as May 2019 including conceptualization of research design, methodology, and survey questionnaire in consultation with the PSA. The DSWD was engaged for the data gathering activities conducted from December 2019 to February 2020, while the research and information technology solutions provider, I-Metrics Asia Pacific Corporation, was contracted for the data analysis.

It can be noted that at the start of the Duterte Administration in 2016, DDB and its previous leadership reported that there were 1.8 million Filipinos using drugs based on the survey conducted in 2015. The previous findings, however, did not use proxy indicators used in the data gathering and analysis of the 2019 Drug Survey. Thus, DDB along with key anti-drug law enforcement agencies, deemed the 4 million figure as the best estimate of the number of drug users in 2016.

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About the 2019 National Household Survey on the Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse. The 2019 National Household Survey on the Patterns and Trends of Drug Abuse (or “2019 Drug Survey”) is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and I-Metrics Asia Pacific, Inc.

Research framework, methodology and instruments were validated and vetted by the Philippine Statistics Authority. Trained field interviewers of the DSWD were engaged for the data gathering activities. Processing of data and analysis, on the other hand, was done by I-Metrics Asia Pacific, Inc.