M. Hembra Western Visayas Medical Center and West Visayas State University College of Medicine, Iloilo City, Philippines
Drug abuse affects almost all countries of the world. In the Philippines it has reached epidemic proportions and is one of the top priorities on the government’s agenda. However, there are many questions to be answered in order to come up with a comprehensive program to address this problem. This study will attempt to determine the economic, political, and social context of the use of illegal drugs in the Philippines. The prevalence of illegal drugs in the Philippines has not been accurately determined. However, estimates by the UNODC showed the annual prevalence for marijuana is 3.5 percent, amphetamine-type stimulants 2.8 percent, and ecstasy .01 percent of the population above 15 years of age. According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2003, it is estimated that there are 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines, which is equivalent to 2.2 percent of the population. There are a variety of factors that influence illegal drug prevalence in the Philippines, namely geographic factors that make patrolling and protecting the country from smugglers of methamphetamine and planters of marijuana difficult; economic factors such as poverty; social factors such as the phenomenon of the overseas contract worker; media exposure and the decreasing moral fabric of the society; and political factors such as policies, drug laws, and enforcement.
Conclusion:Drug abuse in the Philippines is multifactorial, and there is a need to study these different factors. Furthermore, there is an immediate need to do an epidemiologic study of the extent of drug abuse, which will significantly help fulfill the need for policy, treatment, and prevention.