Confessions of a reformed drug addict (1) | Inquirer Opinion

Confessions of a reformed drug addict (1)

“Lino Borja” has been to hell and back. He was hooked on shabu for nine years, lived in the streets for eight years, and was imprisoned three times.

He was 14 years old and had completed only the sixth grade in school when he left his parents’ house in a province in the Visayas. His mother was a fish vendor and his father was a jobless drunkard. There were days when he and his siblings went hungry. On top of everything else, their father was physically abusive of his children. Lino ran away to escape all that.


A job recruiter gave him boat fare, P1,000 in pocket money, and a promised job as a factory worker in Manila. He ended up working in a pancit bihon (rice noodle) factory in Laguna where he was unpaid for his labor for six months; his employer claimed to have paid his recruiter a big commission.

Lino escaped from the Laguna factory and took a job as a construction laborer in Pasig City. There he was introduced to shabu by his fellow workers.


He describes the feeling when one uses shabu: “Kapag naka-shabu, feeling mo guapo ka, feeling mo malakas ka, tapos ma-PR ka, madaldal, walang kapaguran sa trabaho.” (When you use shabu, you feel you are good-looking, you feel strong, you are sociable, talkative, and you don’t get tired working.)

He continues: “Ang effect kapag nag-shabu, sa isang gamitan, umaabot ng two days ang tama na feeling mo malakas ka. Hindi ka kumakain at hindi natutulog, tubig-tubig lang, walang ganang kumain, walang lasa ang pagkain. Tapos ang lalamunan, tuyong-tuyo.” (The effect of a single use of shabu is that you feel strong. You don’t eat and sleep for two days, you take only water, you don’t have appetite for food, food is bland. And your throat is very dry.)

He describes the physical signs and behavior of one addicted to shabu: “Ang itsura ng nakagamit ng shabu ang mukha niya naglalangis. Hindi pawis, parang langis ang lumalabas sa mukha. Ang pagsasalita niya hindi normal, parang mabilis at nagmamadali magsalita. Walang laway, malikot ang mata, at hindi mapakali. Madaldal, makwento, at kung anu-ano pinagsasabi.” (A person who is high on shabu has an oily face. Not sweat, but oil
secreted on the face. His speech is not normal: he talks fast, as though he’s rushing. There is no saliva, the eyes are shifty, and he’s ill at ease. Talkative, has lots of stories to tell, and he talks nonsense.)

This vice is unlike the others, he says: “Sa lahat nang natikman ko na bisyo, kakaiba ang shabu. Mabubuhay ang ugat-ugatan mo kapag nakagamit ka. Pero bawal ang shabu sa may mabigat na problema, kasi yung problema mo lang iniisip mo, doon ka lang naka-concentrate, at may tendency na masisiraan ka ng ulo.” (Of all the vices I tried, shabu is different because all your nerves come alive when you use it. But shabu should not be used by one who has a heavy problem because you will think only about your problem, you are fully concentrated on it, and there is a tendency for you to go mad.)

He admits that he has used other prohibited substances. “Nasubukan ko rin ang solvent, rugby, at marijuana. Ang effect ng marijuana ay pang down, pampahingahan, at pangkalmado. Sa marijuana nakatawa ka lagi. Parang rugby pang down at pangkalma. Pampatulog ang rugby at marijuana. Kapag nawalan na ng tama ng shabu, pampatulog ang rugby at marijuana. Pero ang rugby makapal ang mukha mo, matibay din ang loob. Sa rugby manhid ka, pero malakas ang loob mo.” (I have also tried solvent, rugby, and marijuana. The effect of marijuana is to calm you down; it makes you feel rested. With marijuana, you are always laughing. Just like rugby, which also calms you down. Rugby and marijuana help you sleep. When the effect of shabu disappears, rugby and marijuana will make you sleep. But with rugby, you become numb, but brave.)

Lino says that some of his construction coworkers take shabu because it helps them in their work. He says many street dwellers take shabu to fight off hunger pangs: It is their solution to the problem of hunger. He himself, he says, was able to go without food and sleep for a whole week by taking shabu. (To be concluded)

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