AS PRESIDENT Duterte’s war on drugs intensifies, hordes of substance abusers around the country have voluntarily surrendered to the police, showing remorse and willingness to undergo rehabilitation.
However, many affluent, if not A-List, users seem oblivious to threats of arrest and news of summary executions.
A source from Kaya Rehab Asia, a treatment center in Baguio,
observed: “People from the lower-income groups were motivated by fear. That’s why they turned themselves in. For the affluent, what’s the fuss? They can’t relate to the police knocking at their doors, looking for suspects.”
The source, who requested anonymity, said Kaya hasn’t experienced any increase in inquiries or enrollment since Duterte launched his campaign. “It hasn’t affected us that much.”
Kaya, which means “can do” or “will” in Tagalog, was patterned after Dara, a luxury rehab in Thailand. Kaya works like a hotel, where clients either have a twin-sharing room or a solo suite. The rates for a 28-day program range from P140,000 to P200,000 depending on the room.
Affluent addicts will turn to rehab upon realizing they’ve hit rock bottom in their health and relationships.
“Even if the police go after high-profile or high-income personalities or celebrities who do drugs, it’s not Duterte’s campaign but the extreme difficulties in life that will drive them to make the change,” said the source.
They tend to be “high-performing individuals with substance-use disorders”—a top corporate executive; a bored, neglected housewife; or an athlete who can’t handle sudden fame and fortune.
Contrary to popular belief that cocaine is the drug of choice of the rich, the source pointed out that, as early as 2000, methamphetamine (the rich call it “meth,” not shabu) was already prevalent in that crowd, fetching P5,000 to P7,000 per gram while cocaine was cheaper at P3,000 to P5,000.
Explained the source: “Coke just gives you a buzz. You’re energetic and not edgy, unlike taking meth. Because coke is milder, it has become a recreational drug. That’s why it’s associated with the rich. You need a fix every hour. Meth, however, brings weight loss, extreme mood swings and paranoia.”
Still, the source quoted a woman telling a client, “Why take shabu? Your maid uses that. Do you want to be baduy?”
On dealing with substance abuse, Kaya counselor Vicente Macasaet observed that the rich will opt for geographical change. The parents will send their children to Baguio, Thailand or America.
“The family will not worry about being exposed because of the confidential nature of the program,” he said.
Macasaet knows of affluent users who have been attending fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
He noted: “If these people get arrested, they can always say they are attending AA or NA. They play cat-and-mouse. That’s the mentality of the user —try to beat the system.”
Macasaet added that Duterte’s drug-busting campaign platform hit the spot with many families: “Parents felt helpless. They hoped Duterte’s campaign would solve the problem.”
Asked why people get into drugs if they’ve got everything in life, Macasaet explained the classic pattern of hardworking parents who are not always available for their children who, in turn, succumb to peer pressure. This is aggravated by a society and culture that seek immediate gratification.
Added the confidential source: “It’s complicated. The executive and the taxi driver may be taking the same drug, but their histories and challenges are different.”
Although Kaya’s rates may seem steep for the average Juan, the rehab center volunteered its 12-step program to the Baguio city government to aid drug personalities who have surrendered.
The program is an action plan in which the individual acknowledges that his situation has become unwieldy, hence the need to surrender to a higher spiritual power and promise to adopt a new set of attitudes and behavior to help himself and, consequently, other people in his life.