Life changing story of a drug addict
He had struggled with drug addiction for almost half of his life but now has been cleaned for more than a year.
Thirty three year old Vicente Lozanes, of Barangay 55, Estanza, Legazpi City, has been one of the identified beneficiaries who suffered in drug addiction and whose life has been changed through Strategies Toward Acceptance Reintegration and Transformation (START).
The START is a community-based intervention strategy particularly for recovering drug dependents that have undergone treatment, rehabilitation and after-care program in various government-owned centers that are being prepared for reintegration to their families and communities.
Vicente revealed that it was curiosity and family problems that pushed him to engage in drug addiction.
He was 17 when he first tried the marijuana and shabu, from that point, his life slowly started to fall apart. Addiction affected his family, personal and professional life and in the end he had nowhere to turn to.
Although he was able to finish his high school but, it was a huge struggle for him when he was in college. “Computer Programming yung kinuha ko na kurso pero nahihirapan ako sa klase. Para kalmado lang ako, nagmamarijuana ako. Hanggang sa huminto na lang ako. After few years, pumasok ako ulit sa college hangang sa naging electronic computer technician ako,” he added.
But, it was difficult for him to find for a job, thus, he was hooked even more in taking drugs.
He said he was using three to five hits of drugs a day to stay high. “Pag wala akong pera marijuana lang, shabu pag meron. Pero, mas gusto ko na ang marijuana kasi P50 lang,” he said.
Since he was already tied-up of using drugs, there are no weeks that he did not argue with his parents. “Sinasaktan kasi ako ni Papa, pinapalo sa ulo, sa katawan, tapos pinagsasabihan ng masasakit na salita,” he stated.
For several years, drugs has been part of his daily life. Until, he got married and had children. “Ilang beses akong pinagsabihan ng asawa ko na huminto. Sinasabi ko lang na hihinto na ako. Hangang sa napagod na lang siya na pagsabihan ako. Nakikita ako ng mga anak ko na nagmamarijuana, pati asawa ko nakikita ko na hirap na hirap na siya pero, cge pa din ako,” he added.
Also, his parents had been convincing him to go for rehabilitation and tried to do all means to stop taking drugs. “Sinangla nila Mama yung bahay at lupa namin para magka-tricycle ako at ibalin na lang daw sa paghahanap buhay. Pero, hindi ko kaya na tumigil, hinahanap hanap siya ng katawan ko,” he stated.
Realization and Intervention
One day, he realized how his life has been messed up and wanted to change for the future of his family specially his children. He finally knew he needed help and could not change on his own, that is why he decided to enter rehabilitation.
According to Vicente, it was difficult to stay for 14 months at the rehabilitation but it paves the way to let him see life on a different scale. “Si Lord lang po ang kinapitan ko sa panahon na nagtitiis ako dahil hindi ko makita ang pamilya ko, kapag naiisip ko na wala na silang makain, pag-nagchichill ako dahil hinahanap ng katawan ko ang drugs, pero gusto ko na mabago,” he recalled.
During the intervention, the START provided medical treatment and recovery through strengthening the spiritual aspect of the person.
Moreover, it conducts advocacy campaigns to educate and prepare families and their members as well as the communities regarding the adverse effects of drug abuse.
It also involves the promotion of family life enrichment activities to enhance cohesive, bonding and harmonious relationship among family members and activities that will equip the families with parenting and life skills to ensure a drug free home.
The start focuses on the organization of recovering drug dependents who will later become the advocacy arm at the community level and shall be equipped through the provision of the following existing basic, social and psychosocial services such as Assistance In Crisis Situation (AICS), economic and livelihood assistance, emergency shelter assistance, educational assistance and referral services.
The project was initially conducted to 100 poor drug users who have limited access to basic services especially medicines needed to ensure effective rehabilitation. These are users who are admitted for the first time with an average of five (5) years drug history.
It is in partnership with Department of Social Welfare and Development, Dangerous Drug Board, Department of Health and other government agencies and non-government organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Academe and Faith-Based Organizations which ensures that support services are installed and can easily accessed by the beneficiaries for the effective transformation, acceptance and reintegration to their families and communities.
For Vicente, a new life has introduced to him by START. He said it was a learning experience for him to have a better life. “Maraming salamat po sa START sa tulong na ibinigay sa akin at sa pamilya ko,” Vicente said.
Currently, he is continuously building a joyful moment with his family. He was provided with a capital assistance of P5,000 by the project which enables him to earn income for his family.
“Nagtitinda po ako ng “kakanin” native foods to employees of various malls in Legazpi,” he humbly said.
Once a week, he also visits the center to conduct after care as part of START. He said it is rewarding to help specially those who went through the same situation like him. “May naiibibigay din po sa akin na P1,000 sa pag after care na nakakatulong din po sa aking pamilya,” he added.
Vicente said that it was a difficult process and a painful one being an addict. But, as he said it is a spiritual program that digs deeper into each individual addict’s life and, if they are truly willing, it transforms them to the healthy and productive person they were designed to be.
“Para sa mga kagaya ko na gustong magbago, ang START po ay blessing at pagasa na mayroon pwedeng tumulong satin. Kailangan lang maging seryoso tayo na magbago para sa ating pamily at patatagin ang pananalig sa Diyos,” he ended.***G.Lindio, Information Officer Patawid Pamilya.