eastwind journals * daily tribune – star gazer column
When eagles soar, they sometimes take a deep dive into a bottomless pit.

By Bernie V. Lopez,
Blogger / Daily Tribune columnist / ex- Inquirer columnist / healing ministry
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This is the second of a three-part series on Shabu, a true story related by an ad agency director.


Ruben was the best most-admired Executive Producer in a multi-national advertising agency. Anything the director asked for, the hardest rarest prop to find, he gives in a silver platter way ahead of the deadline.


Office peers started to notice Ruben’s peculiar behavior, easily angry, easily laughing, over-talkative. Finally, he could no longer keep it a secret. The agency discovered he was a shabu addict, and instantly kicked him out. After a year in rehabilitation, he got well. He went back to the agency, which took him in again without question. Everything was fine, until, one day, after six months, they had a location shoot in Baguio for a TV commercial. He decided to take just a little bit. It was cold. It was nice to get high. That was when hell broke loose.


After continued use of shabu, one develops ‘tolerance’ or the ability of your body to adjust to the drug. This slowly lessens the effect of the drug on you. If you take a third of a gram as a beginner, your high can last 2 days. But after 3 to 6 months of constant use, you may need a triple dose of one gram to get a high for half the time, namely 1 day instead of 2. You need more and more shabu to get high through time. Within one or two years, you become a zombie, desperate for a high which becomes harder to get. You start to become mad.


In the case of Ruben, his successful rehab took away the addiction. It also took away the tolerance, something he knew nothing about. After rehab, he was like a beginner all over again, super-sensitive to the drug. He was taking say one gram as a veteran addict before rehab because he was very tolerant. In Baguio, after rehab, he was taking shabu for the first time in a year without tolerance. He needed only a third of a gram to get super-high, but he too one gram, which was close to over-dose.


When you are high on shabu, you do not feel hungry or sleepy or tired for the two days you are high. Then, when you ‘crash’, you sleep for one whole day, and take a liter of water and devour a lot of food when you wake up. The crash induces depression so you take more shabu, an anti-depressant, the vicious cycle of addiction. Some addicts have with them a portable DVD player to watch movies, to kill time anywhere anytime when they can’t sleep. Addicts normally look ten years older.


At the Baguio location shoot, unable to sleep due to the shabu ‘overdose’ he took, Ruben came to the set at 430 a.m. When the camera crew came at 6 am, he screamed at them for being late. He methodically instructed them what to do, even though they knew what to do better than him. When the client came at 8 am (very early in client standards), he also screamed at him for being late. He was a senior VP of the company and the client contributed about 70% to the agency’s gross income. Of course, Ruben lost his job instantly. His peers do not know where Ruben is now. They speculate he may just have committed suicide.


An ex-addict I interviewed (his words reconstructed), said, “Two of my friends committed suicide. Three were in and out of rehab. I know only of one who really got out of it, Jackie, me ex. She’s been off shabu for five years now. But I am not sure if, one day, out of the blue, when she gets depressed or lonely, she goes back. I am deadly scared of rehab. I’d rather just die. Please pray for me.”


Tricycle and jeepney drivers must be educated on the trap shabu offers. They are often given a taste for free, to get them hooked. Many squatter areas are littered with addicts and pushers who entice kids with free shabu to become couriers. They wait for them at the sari-sari store to buy vinegar for their mom.


The best law enforcers in the U.S. and Latin American have failed to stop the powerful drug cartels for many decades now, because they are able to buy everyone – policemen, mayors, governors, even senators. They are able to control it somewhat but not eradicate completely. It has the ability to destroy society totally if left unchecked. It is the main reason for heinous crimes in the streets. The information drive and education program on shabu is critical to protect our children before they take the first dangerous puff.
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