“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.” Tim Burton

That is very much the situation in my country now.

Before I left home again in 2015, I made some mental conclusion that the childhood place we grew up and spent summer as a child was gone. With it was replaced by destitute image of mediocre life lived by people with either no dream or no opportunity to dream.

People had grown indifferent to the ills of the society, in this case, drugs.

I grew up knowing the lords in our village, they have a name – a name that was spoken openly and sort of like revered because the name equates to beautiful life that many people admire. Regardless of where the money came from, all they see are the beautiful houses, big cards and free flow of cash.

The easy life imagery is what makes many get into the business selling and getting hooked – one cannot be one without being the other.

One has to try their goods, and before they knew it, they are also both dealing and using at the same time. The line in between became blurred making the person crave for more – more money means more buyer, more buyer means more income to support the addiction and the cycle goes round and round, until it’s too late to put a stop to it.

I remember back in the days; I had a boyfriend who told me his story of addiction.

Chiolo (an alias) said being the eldest in the sibling of 3 boys, he has to look after his brothers because their parents both died of cancer when they were young and was raised by their grandmother. They inherited sizable amount and big beautiful old house in the old city. They were considered bratty middle class kids.

Raising three rowdy boys, the grandmother was very considerate. Letting them roam around and meet all kinds of people, bringing friends over and living THE life of teenagers. Chiolo said they are all A students, bright kids but experimental and with that started his brothers addiction to methamphetamine (street name: shabu) drugs. He didn’t know at first until he saw changes in his brother’s attitude and grades in school are all spiraling downwards.

Feeling responsible he told himself he’ll figure out what made his brothers addicted to “shabu” and got introduced to the same friends and eventually to the same drugs. Before he knew it him too was snorting them up his nose and getting the high like his other siblings. Throwing away their inheritance and ignoring the wisdom imparted by their grandmother. 

When I met him, he was the habit, although I knew about it and was even warned by his friend dealer trying to protect me I went along the relationship. He even had a kid from a woman who jammed with his addiction, but at that time the mom was nowhere to be found. I was young and naive but not without values. 

I introduced a more polished Chiolo to my family. Making sure he’s on his best behavior in our house, around my family and friends and he struggled. Having been hooked for years, having no fix anytime he wants was difficult – he was difficult. When he’s at home all he do was stay in the room and sleep, his skin developed bad case of acne and he was always sweating – he was undergoing withdrawal unintentionally (but actually being together almost all the time sort of like kicked start the process). 

I showed him the good side of life – having good time without so much spending 10K to get high or to eat proper meals at the right time of the day. Having family time and structure which he and his brother didn’t have when their parents passed away. He saw that fun doesn’t have to be expensive and you can get high without even using drugs. 

But our story does not have a happy ending.

The pressure from friends and the mother of his child were stronger than the bond we had created in a short time we were together. Chiolo disappeared and was taken back by the system that eventually destroyed him and his brothers.

That made me realize that addiction and getting out of it is a personal choice. A choice no one can take for you.

But that realization is not known to many in my village. Their reality is money and drugs – I need to sell to get money to buy me my addiction! Not caring if they destroy other people in the process.

Now with the new administration hell bent on killing drug pushers and user (only) – I say only because if you’re the “drug lord” you get an invitation to meet the president to get a slap on the wrist while a destitute member of the club gets a bullet in the head, they forgot the most important element in the fight against drugs – an appeal to the self, to the humanity of the addict themselves. 

Easier said than done, I know, so I believe we need to appeal first to the compassion of the government – that life is more important to preserve in spite of who own it or how it is lived.

When that happens, the measure of success would be a different reality to the craziness we have now in the Philippines.

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.

                                                                                                            ~ Albert Camus


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