STAGES IN SHABU ADDICTION * The need for an information campaign

eastwind journals * daily tribune – star gazer column
The need for a Shabu Information Campaign.
At first, it is all sunshine and happiness. At the end, it is total darkness and madness.


By Bernie V. Lopez,
Blogger / Daily Tribune columnist / ex- Inquirer columnist / healing ministry
Facebook “Bernie V Lopez” / “Eastwind Journals”
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This is the first of a three-part series on Shabu, the destroyer of society.


First, it is plain curiosity, which turns to occasional use. By the time a victim knows it, he is sucked into the vortex of a full-blown addiction, and there is no escaping, except through sheer will power.


There are two catalysts to the spread of shabu – curiosity, and the barkada or gang. Curiosity means you just want to try it out. You do not plan to really go into it. You do not realize, because of your ignorance, that the first taste is the first step towards addiction. A Shabu Information Drive is thus important to stop the drug at the root before it grows, to stop the potential user before he tries it out.


Second is the barkada, which offers the opportunity. It is there in front of you on a silver platter, no muss, no fuss, no pay. It seems safe in the confines of the barkada.


A construction worker is going home. He is accosted to join a small private ‘party’ in a corner of the now-empty construction site. The shabu sessions become regular because everybody is happy and animated. You are on your way to addiction without knowing it. Normally, the pusher joins the group and gives a free supply. When he notices, you are now asking for it, he will start selling. A pusher is supported in his addiction by users. This is the same story at the tricycle, jeepney, or bus terminals. For students, they go to the house of a friend where it is safer.


Here is a quick Shabu 101 for the readers. Long-term use of shabu results in psychosis, when brain cells are damaged on a massive scale beyond repair. A millionaire from Ayala Alabang, a drug-lord-addict, lost everything – family, business empire, home, in a single year.
STAGE 1. EUPHORIA. At first, everything is sunshine and happiness, making it intensely addictive. The shabu sessions are lively. You look forward to it. During a high, you do not feel tired, hungry, thirsty or sleepy for two days. When you leave the shabu session, you bring your high to your home and your family, in time, starts noticing your personality changes.


After a two-day high, you ‘crash’, sleeping for the whole day. When you wake up, you take a liter of water and overeat. You start aging fast. Shabu disrupts schedules of students or employees. But it helps jeepney and tricycle drivers. They do not get tired driving, another point of addiction.
STAGE 2. ANTI-DEPRESSION. Shabu is an anti-depressant. It will turn your depression into happiness. If you have problems with your parents or sweetheart, shabu will ‘solve’ them quickly for a while. After you ‘crash’, it comes back double with vengeance. So you take shabu again, a vicious circle that makes you a zombie in a few weeks. A teenager can look like a 40-year-old.
STAGE 3. ‘TOLERANCE’. ’Tolerance’ means – the more you take, the less the effect. At the start, one fourth gram gets you high for 3 days. After 6 months, half a gram gets you high for 1 day. After a year, a whole gram gets you high for 3 hours. At this stage, your happiness starts to evolve into anger. You easily explode.
STAGE 4. PSYCHOSIS AND SUICIDE. Psychosis and suicide are the last stages in shabu addiction beyond rehabiliation. When addiction intensifies, a shabu addict starts going crazy, killing and raping and stealing to feed his need. The addict can pull a knife on his own mother or maul his own father or rape a child sister. It is dangerous to have an addict in your home. All appliances will suddenly disappear, including wide-screen TV, vacuum cleaners. A ‘shy’ addict is capable of heinous crimes. One businessman did not know his son had mortgaged their home and the car sold.
REHABILITATION. Rehab centers managed by soldiers normally fail because addicts are mutilated and mistreated in a jail environment. Rehab requires gentleness to nurse the addict going through ‘cold turkey’, i.e. massive physical and mental stress caused by sudden withdrawal of the drug. There must be a balance between authority (soldiers) and gentleness (counselors, psychologists).


After one year of rehab, the son of a banker was released from a rehab center run by sisters. After just two weeks, his shabu friends visited him, and he was back on shabu instantly. The banker was forced to ‘deport’ his son to the States.


A Shabu Information Drive has three components. First is integrating Shabu 101 in high school and college curricula. Second is obligatory seminars for workers and drivers via OWWA and DOLE. The best speakers are former addicts. Third is the telecast of shabu documentaries for television and Youtube.


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