CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)--There are no words to explain a person’s wake-up call; it just happens.
Cacai, a once upon-a-time drug addict, although the Department of Health does not use the term "drug addict" because it is stigmatizing, but rather "person who uses drugs" (PWUD), could not fathom the need for any help, "Actually I did not realize, I just accept the program, as an addict, who I am, dili siya basta nga mu-sink in sa akong utok nga [it does not sink in easily in my head that] I do really need help kay lami ang shabu, lami siya [because shabu is good, so good].
In 2017, when the government started "TokHang" or "Toktok-Hangyo" meaning "knock and plead" (make a polite request to surrender or stop using drugs), Cacai was one of those who experienced TokHang and approached by the barangay officials. There was an offer of livelihood, spirituality written in the letter.
"Yes, cge mu-adto ko [I will go] kagawad," Cacai said.
It was then, upon going to the invitation, where Cacai was oriented about the types of drugs, and types of addiction, that she realized how she had destroyed her brain. It was at that moment that the realization came.
"Oh my God, ing-ani nako pagguba akong kinabuhi. So ayha pa, ayha pa ko nihilak, ayha pa ko nasakitan, kay numb man ang feeling sa usa ka addict. Manhid, dili na ma-feel diretso nga I need help. No, wala nako na na-feel at first pag-encounter nako sa program ni CBDRP," Cacai said.
(Oh my God, this is how I destroyed my life. It was then that I cried; it was then that I was hurt, because an addict's feelings are numb. I felt no emotion, I did not feel that I needed help. No, I did not feel it at the first encounter with the program of CBDRP or Community Based Drug Rehabilitation Program)
Who am I?
Cacai said to herself, "They have given me the program, why will I not grab it? My family is poor, we cannot afford rehabilitation. This is free, spoon-fed by the government; the barangay went house to house. So why won’t I grab it?"
Cacai narrated the program every night, and it featured elderly service providers, teachers, and retired police officers, among others.
"Kinsa man ko para tagaan nila og panahon? Para tagaan nila og importansya? Usa ko ka addict, usa ka badlongon pero here’s the community, here’s the government willing to help me. So gigakos gyud nako with arms wide open apil akong kasing-kasing didto," Cacai shared
(Who am I for them to give time to? to be given importance? I am an addict with a stubborn personality, but there is a community and a government willing to help me.So I embraced it with open arms and my heart.
Cacai’s world was so small then. She described it as three things: bangag, balay, suyop [high, house, suck]
But when she joined the community rehab, she felt she was given importance. She felt she was given value as a person and value for her life.
"Og nganong dili nako ihatag sa akong kaugalingon nga ang lain tao gani gagaghin og panahon, gagahin sa ilang singot ug dugo para lang nga matabangan ko," she said.
(And why will I not give to myself what others are giving to me, just like their time, their sweat, and their blood, just to be able to help me?)
Cacai has been in recovery for six years, and her support system is still in place.
There are still cravings, she said, and she can feel the taste in her mouth at times, but the support system has been a huge help in her recovery journey.
She surrounds herself with people who have the same goals as her, so that they too can help themselves. Her group is called Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship, and it meets Monday through Friday.
Without barangay Carmen, I am nothing
Cacai expressed her gratitude to her barangay officials in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, saying she is nothing without the barangay.
She admitted, Shabu was so good, but her life now is better. She has friends—true friends, not those who become your friends solely because they need something from you, spiritual friends.
She also met people who truly cared, not for anything in return, but for what they could do to help.That’s how beautiful her life is now.
Her use of drugs was motivated by easy money, curiosity, and the market.One thing led to another, which then resulted in addiction.
Looking back, she stated that her experience and what she went through strengthened her today and that it is never too late to make a change.
"Pagdawat nako nga pildi ko, nahimo kong masakiton, naghatag sa ako og freedom, nahimo kong gawasnon, kay dili nako sakitan," she said.
(When I accepted that I lost, because it made me sick, it gave me freedom, I became free, I am not hurt anymore)
The TokHang program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gave attention to people like me, Cacai said, describing it as a wakeup call and saying, "Hello, there are addicts who need help."
An addict helping another addict is without parallel
Cacai has made helping another addict reform her passion.
"I don’t care kung wala ko’y business. I don’t care kung honorarium ra akong sweldo. Mura naman gud ni og soul winning. Mamatay ko unya, ugma or sunod adlaw, nobody knows sa atong mga kinabuhi, kanus-a ta taman. At least man lang naa kay natabangan usa ka kalag," she said.
(I don’t care if I don’t have a business. I don’t care if my only income is an honorarium. This is already soul winning. I will die later, either tomorrow or the next day; no one knows how long we will live. At least I have helped one soul)
"My recovery for me is a journey and it is lifetime. I believe that addiction is a relapsing and chronic disease, so I’m taking care of my sobriety. So that my sobriety will take care of me," she said. (JMOR/PIA-10)