Educational programmes on the prevention and control of drug abuse in the Philippines


I. Background information
II. Three-pronged thrust to prevent drug abuse
III. Philosophy and objectives of education towards drug abuse prevention
IV. The Integrated Plan of Action
V. Educational programmes
VI. School-based educational programmes
VII. Community information activities
VIII. Communications support


Author: Mrs. Aurora S. CUDAL
Pages: 1 to 9
Creation Date: 1976/01/01

Educational programmes on the prevention and control of drug abuse in the Philippines

Mrs. Aurora S. CUDAL *

I. Background information

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago comprising 7,100 islands and islets with a total land mass of 115,000 sq. miles. It is situated in the heart of South-East Asia. There are approximately 42 million Filipinos, 65 per cent of whom are below 25 years old.

The absence of wide-scale population studies in the area of non-medical use of drugs is a limiting factor in fully appreciating the nature and extent of the problem. One has to rely on the records of young boys confined to the various rehabilitation centres and on the limited studies and surveys that have been conducted in recent years.

In 1965 when the National Bureau of Investigation established the first treatment and rehabilitation centre in the Philippines, there were 930 drug dependants, 615 of whom abused heroin, 121 morphine, 80 barbiturates and amphetamines, and 13 marijuana. These numbers grew to alarming proportion in the Greater Manila area up to 1972. Law enforcement reports then estimated that there were 8,000 to 10,000 narcotic users [ 1] .

There has been a marked decline in illegal drug traffic and use of opiates such as heroin and morphine, since the declaration of Martial Law on 21 September 1972. In a recent survey on drug use in schools in five cities [ 2] , it was disclosed that only 37 per cent of the 2,048 respondents admitted having taken only one drug for non-medical purposes and the daily ingestion of any single drug amounts to less than 1 per cent. The drug commonly abused is marijuana, and exempt drug preparations.

The Central Case Registry in the Dangerous Drugs Board shows that there has been no single recorded case of opiate dependence since March 1974. Furthermore, police seizures of illicit drugs and substances support the assertion that the country has controlled domestic illicit trafficking and use of heroin and other narcotic drugs [ 3] .

However, the Philippine Government is not being lulled into complacency. The Dangerous Drugs Board, the national policy-making and co-ordinating body in matters pertaining to the prevention and control of drug abuse has consistently intensified its efforts to keep drug abuse from making further inroads into the Filipino way of life.

* Chief, Preventive Education and Community Information Division, Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippines. The author was a recipient of the first UNFDAC Fellowship Award on Drug Education, a study programme administered by UNESCO.

II. Three-pronged thrust to prevent drug abuse

The Philippine Government has taken an uncompromising stand against illegal drug use. For the past three years, the Dangerous Drugs Board has endeavoured to promote inter-agency co-ordination, multi-disciplinary co-operation and community participation in its three-pronged thrust to minimize, if not totally eliminate, drug abuse and drug-related problems. These are [ 1] prevention of the illegal use of prohibited and regulated drugs and control of illegal drug traffic [ 2] provision of treatment and rehabilitation services to drug users by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and [ 3] integration of education programmes for youth, parents and community leaders in health and social development to prevent drug abuse; in the in-service training programmes for teachers, law enforcement personnel and social workers; and in continuing education programmes of pharmacists and physicians.

III. Philosophy and objectives of education towards drug abuse prevention

The current educational programmes implemented in the Philippines are based on the concept that the drug abuse problem is not merely a problem of drugs but a problem of people. Hence, the traditional practice of giving stereotype lectures to undefined target audiences has been discouraged. Lectures to young people on the different kinds of drugs, their history, and their ill-effects have been abandoned. Among adult audiences however, knowledge about drugs and their proper medical use and consequences when misused, as well as the provisions of the law, are discussed so that they will be in a position to answer questions that may be raised by young people [ 4] .

The Interagency Committee on Drug Abuse Prevention Education, a committee composed of representatives from 15 government and voluntary agencies concerned with the implementation of educational programmes, defined education for drug abuse prevention as a process of creating awareness on the underlying causes of the drug abuse problem in order to generate individual, group and community involvement in formulating social action programmes to minimize the perceived causes. This involves planning and working with people in the study of the nature and extent of the problem, its underlying causes, and defining their own roles in the resolution of the problem. It utilizes varied educational methods and approaches which, hopefully, will positively influence knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.

IV. The Integrated Plan of Action

The Integrated Plan of Action was the result of a National Workshop on Drug Abuse Prevention Education held on 20-25 May 1974, under the joint sponsorship of the Dangerous Drugs Board (Philippines) and the Colombo Plan Bureau. This educational event attended by 47 representatives from 20 national agencies, both government and voluntary, served as an opportunity to assess past education and information efforts and to develop new programme guidelines and strategies for an integrated plan of action to prevent drug abuse through positive and productive ways. The over-all programme is directed towards the development of social consciousness and a sense of responsibility among the youth; the promotion of parental recognition and acceptance of their role in maintaining a wholesome family environment; the integration of educational concepts for drug abuse prevention in curricular and co-curricular activities in schools; and the development and implementation of social action programmes in the community.

The approaches we have started to utilize are as follows:

1. Integration of educational concepts for drug abuse prevention on:

  1. Developmental programmes for children and youth of government and voluntary agencies such as skilled training programmes for in-school and out-of-school youth, sports development and physical fitness programmes; scouting activities; and youth civic action programmes.

  2. Parent education programmes through the parent-teacher association, parents council, family-oriented organizations such as the Family Life Workshop and Christian Family Movement, and fundamental adult education programmes.

  3. Curricular and co-curricular offerings in schools such as in social science and health education; guidance and counselling services, in-service training of school administrators and teachers.

  4. Existing community programmes through the barangay * leaders training programme, urban community development projects, maternal and child health programmes, mental health programmes, nutrition programmes, social welfare projects, community relations programmes of local police departments; and socio-civic and religious organizations.

2. Provision of alternatives and facilities for young people such as:

  1. Involvement in religious, socio-civic, cultural and other creative activities;

  2. Participation in recreational and sports activities;

  3. Skills training programmes;

  4. Drop-in centres and community out-reach programmes;

  5. Youth leadership training and peer group counselling;

  6. Community assemblies and seminars.

The contents of the educational programmes for young people revolves around understanding the self-values of physical and mental health; building moral and spiritual values; development of potentials; coping with change; responsibilities of young people; understanding adults; qualities of leadership; community involvement; medical use of drugs; and the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972.

For parents, the content of the programme includes discussions on the nature and extent of the drug abuse problem; underlying causes of drug abuse; medical and non-medical use of drugs; and dialogues on husband-wife relationship, childrearing practices, parent-child communication, and growth and personality development.

On the other hand, community leaders are given orientation on the four areas of concern in drug abuse prevention and control - law enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation, preventive education and research and statistics.

Basic socio-political unit in a community composed of 100 families with a chairman and seven councilmen including the chairman of the youth organization.

V. Educational programmes

The following are some of the on-going community-based educational programmes:

(1) San Antonio Pilot Community Education Project

Upon the request of community leaders in San Antonio, Singalong (Zone 81), a seminar on drug abuse prevention and control was organized in the area. Representatives of various agencies were invited to talk on the different aspects of the problem and what these agencies are doing to prevent drug abuse. An off shoot of this seminar was the realization by the community leaders themselves of the need for a planned programme to be integrated with existing community development projects. Thus, the Narcotics Foundation of the Philippines, Inc., took the initiative of employing a community co-ordinator to assist in the planning and co-ordination of activities for youth, parents, and community leaders.

The project started with a total community study to determine the socio-cultural and demographic characteristics of the community, the leadership patterns, the resources and facilities available and other data which have implications on the development of a community drug abuse prevention education programme. With the information obtained from the community study, the leaders became more aware of the needs and problems of the community as well as the needs and interests of young people.

Among the activities that have been undertaken are:

  1. Organization of a youth co-ordinating council to co-ordinate all youth programmes and activities with the guidance of adult leaders (there are 10 youth organizations in the community);

  2. Organization of study groups for parents and young people on community projects (family planning, nutrition, green revolution, mothercraft, etc.);

  3. Organization of leadership training programmes (qualities of leadership and followership, how to conduct meetings, coping with change, human relations);

  4. Organization of sports tournaments and cultural presentations to channel the talents and energies of young people towards meaningful and worthwhile activities.

(2) Youth Civic Action Service

This programme which was initiated by the Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Network (DARN) and the Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) is linked with the Youth Civic Action Programme (YCAP) of the Department of Education and Culture which requires every college student to render 120 hours of civic action work before graduation.

A series of lecture-discussions on the nature and extent of the drug abuse problem and how it affects young people and other relevant topics are held with the students. They are then divided into working groups to plan a programme which they themselves will undertake. Among the signifiant activities they have pursued are regular visits to Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres to provide counselling services to drug dependants, and volunteer community service such as helping in the government's campaign to promote food production, cleanliness and beautification, and family planning.

(3) Youth Leadership Seminar-Workshop

Several youth leadership seminar-workshops have been organized to equip young people with knowledge and skills in the planning of recreational programmes and community service projects and to develop their potentials for leadership. The activities are geared towards the prevention of drug abuse among their peers. Among the organizations involved in this programme are: the Tondo Foreshore Youth Confederation; Youth Council of Zone 81; Junior Bachelor's Club of Bacolod City; and youth of CAA-Don Carlos Village, Parañaque.

A follow-up of this programme revealed that the participants have initiated in their respective communities, activities which keep other young people involved in community improvement projects, sports and recreational activities, and cultural presentations which serve as positive alternatives to drug abuse.

(4) Parent Education Seminars

Parent education seminars are designed primarily to enable parents to realize and assume their role and responsibility in the proper upbringing of their children. Programmes have been undertaken by various agencies to make parents of drug dependants aware of their role in the rehabilitation process and to change their negative attitudes towards their children and the problems of living as a whole.

(5) Department of Social Welfare Preventive Education and Community Information Programme

The Department of Social Welfare has integrated education for drug abuse prevention and community information activities in the programmes of the Bureau of Rehabilitation, Bureau of Youth Welfare, the Bureau of Child and Family Welfare, and the Bureau of Assistance. These are implemented in the eleven (11) regions through the DSW Regional Offices. In this connexion, a two-week live-in seminar for 26 social welfare officers to develop strategies for the effective implementation of the "Integrated Plan of Action" in their respective areas of assignment was undertaken. The result of this seminar was the development of work-plans which will be implemented by the DSW units in six pilot areas, namely Manila, Rizal, Pasay City, Caloocan City, Quezon City and Carmona, from July 1975 to July 1976. The approaches that will be utilized will differ in each area depending upon the needs and problems of the locality. However, it is envisaged that through an integrated and co-ordinated approach, education towards drug abuse prevention will be maximized, to wit: integration of education programmes for drug abuse prevention in youth development workers' training programmes; family life education and counselling programmes in the community centres; and in the training programmes of rehabilitation specialists and social workers.

(6) Integration of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control in Safety Programmes

The Philippine National Red Cross has integrated in its training programme for professionals as well as volunteer instructors, drug abuse prevention and control. A close working relationship has been established by the Safety Services Department with the Dangerous Drugs Board through its representative in the Interagency Committee on Drug Abuse Prevention Education. Such relationships resulted in a wider dissemination of information on how to prevent drug abuse and in gene- rating greater involvement of young people in positive activities such as water safety (swimming and life-saving), first aid, and accident prevention.

(7) Boy Scouts of the Philippines Drug Abuse Prevention Education Programme

The education programme for drug abuse prevention pursued by the Boy Scouts on the Philippines is based on the philosophy that a busy and active boy properly motivated and acting within the framework of scouting ideals will not resort to the use of drugs. The programme is geared towards maximizing opportunities for the almost two million in-school and out-of-school youth to participate in worthwhile activities which will develop their potentials and make them aware of their responsibilities to themselves, to others, and to the community at large.

The planned activities include:

  1. Creating awareness regarding the drug abuse problem, its prevention and control through training seminars for national, regional and local scout leaders.

  2. Motivating scout leaders to recognize and accept their role in the prevention of drug abuse through direct involvement in the planning of social action programmes.

  3. Organizing activities such as "Operation Reach" (on the unit level) to improve interpersonal relations and communication between young people and their parents; "Big Brother-Small Brothers" venture to develop positive concern and responsibility for one another; voluntary participation in community service programmes with merit badges as incentives.

VI. School-based educational programmes

(1) Curriculum Enrichment Programme

The development of the "curriculum enrichment programme" of the Stella Maris College, Quezon City, was the result of a seminar on drug abuse prevention and control for faculty members, organized by the Narcotics Foundation of the Philippines, Inc.

After an orientation on the nature and extent of the drug abuse problem and its underlying causes and a discussion on the different aspects of the problem, the seminars participants were divided into groups to plan an action programme on how they could prevent drug abuse among their students. Unexpectedly, the participants came up with the identification of problems affecting the school administration and the teachers themselves, and their relationship with their students.

The result of this process of introspection, was a programme designed to minimize the work load of teachers so that they could spend more time with their students and a total review of the curricular offerings of the school. Subject areas found to be inadequate in meeting the emotional, psychological and health needs of the students were further strengthened and enriched.

(2) Integrated Social Development Programme

This is a pilot project of the Narcotics Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. and the Mapa High School, City of Manila. It was the result of a seminar-workshop on drug abuse prevention and control attended by selected teachers, guidance counsellors, student leaders and community leaders. The activities that have been carried out are geared towards:

  1. Strengthening parent-child-teacher relationships through the PTA (parent-teacher association).

  2. Maximizing opportunities for students to participate in co-curricular activities.

  3. Strengthening guidance and counselling services for students.

  4. Increasing school-community dialogues to minimize existing health and social problems in the community.

(3) Five-Year UP-DEC Drug Education Project

The Department of Education and Culture organized a Drug Education Co-ordinating Council "to provide direction in the formulation and implementation of educational measures dealing with the problem of drug abuse and to co-ordinate the plans, programmes, projects and activities undertaken in connexion therewith". The core activity of this Council is the Five-Year Drug Education Programme (which was originally founded by the Dangerous Drugs Board), a joint project of the Department of Education and the University of the Philippines. The over-all education plan is to "develop a drug education programme integrated with health education with the end in view of guiding the individual to develop the ability to think critically and make wise decisions in relation to life's problems". The activity undertaken so far by the Implementing Committee on the Drug Education Co-ordinating Council include:

  1. In-service and pre-service education for teachers, school health administrators, and other trainers who will handle nation-wide programmes on drug education integrated with health education.

  2. Writing of curriculum guides in drug education for elementary and high schools, and holding a two-week work seminar for selected teachers on the trial use of the drug education curriculum guides for the school year 1972-1973.

VII. Community information activities

A. Law enforcement agencies such as the Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Anti-Smuggling Action Centre (ASAC), Bureau of Customs (BC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and trained police officers manning the Anti-Narcotics Section of city police departments have as one of their activities, dissemination of information regarding the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the penalties for the violations of such provisions and the role of the enforcement agencies in the total drug control programme. Representatives from the above-mentioned agencies are often invited as resource speakers during seminars and symposia for community leaders, teachers, youth leaders, pharmacists, physicians and other groups to discuss the nature and extent of the drug abuse problem and what is being done by law enforcement agencies to combat illegal drug traffic and to minimize the availability of prohibited and regulated drugs. Most of these lectures are geared towards creating public awareness of law enforcement activities so that the public will support and co-operate in the implementation of these activities.

B. Celebration of Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week: pursuant to Proclamation No. 1192 of His Excellency, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the Dangerous Drugs Board has for the past three years provided leadership in the nation-wide celebration of a Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week which falls on the third week of November. The mass media has been mobilized to create public awareness regarding the problem of drug abuse and to encourage community participation in its prevention and control. Varied educational activities in the form of seminars, symposia, community assemblies and youth rallies have been organized throughout the country by the staff and personnel of the Department of Health, Department of Education and Culture, Department of Social Welfare, Constabulary Anti-Narcotics Unit, police departments, the Narcotics Foundation of the Philippines, Inc., the Philippine National Red Cross, the Department of Public Information, the Kiwanis Club, the Lions International, and many other civic and religious organizations.

VIII. Communications support

The National Media Production Centre has provided information and communications support to all the educational programmes designed to prevent drug abuse. As a member of the Interagency Committee on Drug Abuse Prevention Education, it has placed its facilities - radio, television, print, as well as its technical staff - at the disposal of the various agencies to supplement and amplify their educational programmes for youth, parents and community leaders.

The following services have been rendered by the National Media Production Centre:

(1) Print media

  1. Production of brochures, pamphlets and posters.

  2. Press releases on the activities and accomplishments of the Dangerous Drugs Board and other agencies.

  3. Photo coverages of important events such as the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Week activities; visit of foreign consultants and travel grantees.

  4. Setting up of photo exhibits.

(2) Radio

  1. Production of several radio plugs which were distributed and broadcast in all radio stations in the Greater Manila Area.

  2. Television: production of television plugs; television coverages of important events and board meetings; television features.

Aside from these activities, the staff of the Office of Programme Development and the Public Relations Office have extended their assistance in the development of communications strategies in reaching young people, parents and community leaders to inform and to motivate them in pursuing worthwhile and productive activities to prevent and control drug abuse.


Each of the aforementioned programmes has a built-in evaluation scheme to assess the effectiveness of educational efforts in terms of positive changes in knowledge, attitudes and practices. The target groups for each educational activity are interviewed to determine their level of knowledge and understanding about drug abuse and their perception of their own individual roles in its prevention and control, before and after the implementation of the programme. Each group also prepares an action programme which will serve as a basis for determining whether the knowledge gained has been translated into action.

At this stage, one could not actually gauge the effectiveness of these educational programmes. One has to contend with the favourable moral and social climate brought about by the imposition of Martial Law and the accelerated pace of programmes geared towards youth development and the enrichment of human life. However, the education programme for drug abuse prevention in the Philippines deserves a second look for creating a keen sense of awareness that the drug abuse problem is a problem of people and for generating individual and community involvement in its attempts to solve the problem in human terms.



Gomez, Fausto, O.P. - Facing the Drug Abuse Problem , U.S.T. Publications, Manila, Philippines, 1972.


Zarco, Ricardo and associates, Two Research Minographs on Drug Abuse in the Philippines, Manila, 1975.


1975 Annual Report, Dangerous Drugs Board, Philippines.


Programme Guidelines on Drug Abuse Prevention Education and Information, Dangerous Drugs Board, November 1974.


Report on the National Workshop on Drug Abuse Prevention Education,Manila, May 1974.