In the war against drugs, one of the challenges authorities faced was rehabilitating thousands of drug surrenderees, who wanted to be healed of the effects of illegal drugs.

Other than detoxification – an essential component in rehabilitation – there was need to address the physiological and psychological effects of drugs.

A novel approach that the Department of Health-MIMAROPA decided to include in its rehabilitation program is the traditional healing practice of Ayurveda, which incorporates meditation and yoga exercises. Ayurveda, an alternative form of medicine, traces its roots to India.

The Advance Intensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program is a one-month intensive treatment plan that did not require patients to be housed in a facility. Rather, they were required to come in for their sessions until they are healed.

The particular Ayurveda healing practice that was employed is pancha karma, which is a mind-body healing experience aimed at detoxifying the body, strengthening the immune system, and restoring balance and well-being.

It was meant to address mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, which most drug users are prone to.

The programme likewise offered behavioural, counseling and medication to treat patients.

Aside from Ayurveda, the surrenderees also constantly communicated with psychiatrists and psychologists based in Manila via telemedicine.

The DOH-MIMAROPA has proudly announced the graduation of 50 former drug users from Bongabong town in Oriental Mindoro, who have been reformed through the novel approaches in rehabilitation.

They have since tested negative for drug intake and will now be regularly monitored to avoid relapse.

“The objective of the programme is to bring back patients to the mainstream of society by giving them purpose to move forward to a more productive life and provide them alternative means of livelihood to ensure that they will not revert from their old ways of peddling illegal substances in the streets,” Regional Director for DOH MIMAROPA Eduardo C. Janairo said.

In total, there are now 86 rehabilitated drug surrenderees, he said.

“We will continue to coordinate with the local governments of the region to further strengthen and increase the coverage of the programme to be able to reach out to other municipalities in the region,” said the regional director.

MIMAROPA is comprised of the provinces of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan.

Relatedly, the DOH reported that 2,508 drug surrenderees from an estimated 1.3 million completed their rehabilitation programme. They sought treatment from July 2016 up to May 2017. Hundreds have returned home.

Also, under a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) programme, Yakap Bayan, drug surrenderees will be trained as disaster responders. They will be given livelihood skills training and capacity building on disaster response following completion of their rehabilitation. MIMS

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