Saturday, September 15, 2007

In and out of a drug den

The 'restaurant we were heading for was located somewhere in the center of a slum area in the city. We had to pass through several houses on stilts and accessed by way of crudely-built bridges. I shuddered at the filthy surroundings- not to mention the sickening odors emanating from the houses built so close to each other and the murky water below us.

Had it not been for my burning curiousity, I wouldn't have set foot in such surroundings, and besides, it took all their power of persuasion for for my two companions Jet and Ces, to prod me to accompany them on this illegal expedition.

Jet knocked on a closed door, gave a passwork and it was opened by a sharp-eyed woman. She gestured towards me, a newcomer. After my companions assured her that I posed no danger, she let us into the one-room house. Everything was in a disarray. A curtain served as a divider. Two smutty-looking boys were playing in a corner of the house whlie a baby was crying lustily in a hammock, calling for the attention of its mother who at that time was entertaining customers-us.

After some whispering she handed a transparent packet to Jet which contained a whilt crystalline substance. I peered at it closely and had my first sight of shabu. Jet sat on the lone bench and prepared the paraphernalia needed for a single session. I watched wide-eyed with curiousity as Jet and Ces started to sniff the stuff, my heart pounding out of fear should police materialize and discover the 'restaurant'.

I used 'restaurant' because immediately after we left, a couple of young men came inwith the same purpose, and as Jet explained, the customers frequent the place as often as they need. The whole session lasted less than five minutes.

Before we left, I found the guts to ask the woman if she was not afraid of being arrested for her illegal business. She looked me in the eye and said she had no other option. Her husband had been in jail for more than a year after he was arrested by police when he delivered shabu to a customer.

"Look at these kids. What will I feed them if I will stop this business? I know no other way to earn money,"

As we headed back to the terminal, Jet and Ces began to be very talkative and alert. I was told the feeling of being 'high' would last for six to seven hours. depending on the dosage and the immunity of the system to the substance. If one is a frequent user, there is a need to increase the dosage and "high" period is shorter. i couldn't weait to observe them when the effects of the substance would face- a phase they call "low bat". (low battery)

I'm talking about that "crystal-llike, money-draining substance that had sent thousands of men and women to jail, broken so many lives and families and crushed so many hopes for a bright future. It is aptly described as a 'rush to crash'.

It's generic name is methampethamine hydrochloride or "shabu". Excessive use of this drug can produce addiction and when stopped, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the side effects of using shabu includes changes in sex drive, impotence, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, exaggerated feeling of well-being, feeling of unwellness or unhapiness, restlessness, sleeplessness, stomach/intestinal problems, rapid/irregular heartbeats, tremors, unpleasant taste, worsening of tics and Tourette's syndrome (severe twitching). Twitching can't be controlled that's why most users of this drug are into chewing gums.
The drug menace has victimized so many young men and women. Last year drug-related cases of violation of Republic Act 6425/9165 ranked 5th out of the more than 8,000 cases received by the Davao city prosecution office with 268 cases.

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