ROMNICK, 18 (not his real name) began his “love affair” with illegal drugs at a young age.
A resident of Barangay Sta. Cruz, Liloan town, Romnick said he started taking illegal drugs when he was 12 after being influenced by an older brother.
“Halos kada adlaw kong walay tugpa (I was high almost every day),” Romnick said.
But Romnick’s life changed when a barangay official urged him to attend a 10-day drug rehabilitation program in Liloan after being subjected to an “Oplan Tokhang” in their village.
After 10 days, Romnick is one of 70 suspected drug personalities who graduated from the program.
Organized by church groups led by the Archdiocese of Cebu, the “Surrender to God (SuGod) Drug Recovery Program” is designed as a live-out seminar workshop intended for outpatient drug users.
The program was the Archdiocese of Cebu’s answer to the shortage of drug rehabilitation centers, said Fe Barino, SuGod’s program director and chairman of the Catholic Charismatic Communities of Cebu.
Barino, co-owner of Duros Development Corp., said the program started as a drug rehabilitation for their 26 employees who were found positive of illegal drugs during a surprise drug test they conducted earlier this year.
Barino said she didn’t have the heart to fire her employees. So instead, she sought the help of IT WORKS! Chemical Dependency Treatment Center to get them rehabilitated.
But what started as a simple rehabilitation program for her employees expanded to other barangays in Liloan who had drug surrenderees.
Aside from IT WORKS!, Barino also sought the help of Fr. Monico Catubig, who specializes in drug-related family counseling.
They presented the program to Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who gave his approval and ordered Barino to implement it.
Around 65 participants, who became the first batch of SuGod, started the pioneering rehabilitation program last August 14.
In the group, four are drug pushers and the rest are drug users.
For 10 days, the participants underwent rehabilitation sessions that used scientific and spiritual approaches.
Rene Francisco, IT WORKS! program director, told reporters that the rehabilitation of the 65 participants doesn’t stop after 10 days.
“The 10 days is just to jump-start their rehabilitation. They really need to have a follow up to ensure their recovery,” he said.
Francisco said that after the 10-day sessions, the 65 participants should attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings in their community for an hour and a half.
Barino said that at first, she was afraid that a lot of their participants will be dropping out in the first three days.
“But we were surprised because a lot of them really came and were willing to get themselves clean,” she said.
Barino offered to provide rice packs and meals to the participants so they would return every day.
Barino said the activity has also taken a toll on their wallets. She said that the 65 participants, they spent around P300,000.
Barino hopes the National Government will help them sustain the program.
In a separate interview, Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said SuGod was one of their initiatives to counter the increasing number of drug surrenderees in Cebu.
“It goes to show that the Church is working for the benefit of all,” Tan said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2016. Latest issues of Sun.Star Cebu also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.