Press Release/25 June 2020
In the spirit of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Department of Health (DOH) officially launched the Substance Abuse Helpline 1550 to ensure unhampered access to professional assistance for substance abuse amid mobility restrictions due to the community quarantine.
In collaboration with the Dangerous Drugs Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (DDAPTP), the hotline will provide support and intervention to Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUDs), their families and the public. Moreover, the hotline was established to heighten awareness to the public and to allow easy access to information regarding substance abuse related problems, despite the pandemic.
Through the hotline, trained helpline operators will provide brief assessment, intervention services, and referrals to treatments. Furthermore, all calls and information will be kept confidential to protect the privacy of those who soughtforassistance.The Substance Abuse Helpline 1550is available every Monday to Friday during regular work hours, accessibleby landline and mobile phones.
According to DDAPTP program manager Dr. Jose Bienvenido Leabres, addiction is a chronic but treatable medical disorder. The treatment for mild severity of drug use relies on community-based rehabilitation programs. However, PWUDs in the moderate and severe levels should receive treatment in accredited clinics and residential drug rehabilitation centers.
Leabres emphasized the negative health effects of substance abuse, and increases the risk for COVID-19. “Nonetheless, we have enhanced the infection, prevention, and control measures at all DOH rehabilitation centers, and we are glad to report that there are zero COVID-19 cases in all of these facilities,” said Leabres.
While substance abuse may be a sensitive issue for some Filipinos to confront, Health OIC-Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire explained that family members and friends play an important role in a PWUD’s decision to seek help.
“Ang substance abuse problem ay isang sensitive topic na mahirap matukoy sa una at hindi madaling pagusapan. Katulad ng COVID-19, malayo ang ating mararating kung tayo’y mayroong mutual support at pag unawa sa bawa’t isa. Sana ay patuloy tayong magtulungan upang maging parte ng solusyon,” said Singh-Vergeire.