FORT MAGSAYSAY, Nueva Ecija — Indigent drug addicts could now avail of free rehab at the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (DATRC) here.
“We don’t charge the indigents anything. So long as they have a referral from the local government, they need not pay any fee,” the center’s program coordinator, Christopher Daraub, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview Thursday.
Daraub said the center is currently caring for 217 drug dependents, who are aged 18 to more than 50 years and are from the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Pampanga and Aurora. Some of them presented themselves to authorities in response to the administration’s call for them to kick their drug habit and turn over a new leaf.
Daraub said that before one is admitted to the center, he has to be evaluated by a trained physician based on the severity of his drug dependence. Mild to moderate drug users are sent to attend the community-based rehab program while hardened users are confined at the rehab center.
Each patient also has to seek a referral from the local government and a court clearance indicating that he has no pending legal case. If the patient has a pending case, the court will suspend it to facilitate rehab.
Each patient also has to obtain a medical certificate clearing him of any communicable disease.
Daraub said that while the Mega DATRC has enough space to accommodate 10,000 patients , it is limited to 500 for the moment.
“It can increase gradually depending on the availability of the needed resources for its maintenance and operation,” he explained, noting that costs for additional staff, electricity, water and other expenses are not covered by the center’s budget allocation.
Rehab, which averages six months, is divided into the three phases of self acceptance, self-discovery and self-modification, Daraub said, adding that during therapy, patients are required to join physical activities, such as sports and exercises.
“We have to keep them busy all the time to minimize boredom, which can trigger substance abuse,” he said, noting that they are also taught practical skills, such as fixing their beds, to instill discipline in them.
Patients are also being closely monitored if they are getting adequate sleep and are following a healthy diet, and they are encouraged to join spiritual activities as part of their transformation.
LED TVs are not allowed at the center, along with negative media exposures, such as violence and sexual images.
Visitation is allowed once a week, when the patient feels he is ready to face his family, as a way of preparing him for the after-care stage and for returning to mainstream society.
The center has a psychiatrist, social welfare officer, doctors, nurses and care managers and staff who have all undergone training.
The Mega DATRC, which was built on a 10-hectare land, was donated by Chinese billionaire and philanthropist Huang Rulun. LSJ/PNA-northboundasia.com