Got a Teen Acting Suddenly Weird? Check for Prohibited Drug Abuse. Here’s the Most Common in the Philippines

There is no telling how much damage prohibited drugs has done to society in general and Philippines in particular. It’s amazing how the claws of addiction can remain clutched inside a man’s inner psyche – and remain there for life. Even if he moves heaven and Earth to dislodge it.

Rugby boy

In more ways than one, drug addiction is one, giant super-typhoon. More like Yolanda. And to a certain degree, even worse. Whereas super-Yolanda ran the country once and left, drug addiction overstayed its welcome and is still wrecking havoc. In fact, it decided to call Philippines home. Andmade a host of many other countries home, United States of America including. As drug addiction pounded its way through the hearts of men, a new kind of war started. Familiesand its stronghold became a battleground. As sons turn against fathers, and mothers against children.And as money became a scarce commodity, crime became a way of life for desperate drug addicts. Crime that redefined gruesome by the day.

Fine ladies and gentlemen, here’s a curious bunch: The Top 10 Most Popular Prohibited Drugs you should be wary about in this side of the Pacific.

#10: Alcohol


The Spaniards may have brought the tenets of Catholicism to the islands but along with it came a scourge: alcoholism. Today Philippines has been ranked as the 3rdcountry worldwide with the heaviest drinkers.

Alcohol is a slow-killer – real slow – and many who are dependent on its promises do not realize the dangers until it’s too late and lives have been destroyed.

Alcohol’s promise – like most drugs here – is unlimited power in one’s hand, a grenade of sorts. It’s appealing, dangerous and addictive.

Nature: complex depressant

Warning signs: Difficulty with interpersonal relationships

Short-term effects: decreased perception and coordination, vomiting, blackouts

Long-term effects: liver failure, sexual dysfunction, brain damage

#9: Inhalants

Rugby boy

A cheap way to get “high”, this is what many transparent-plastic-carrying ragged street-children or more popularly-known as “rugby boys” are consuming by the tons everyday. Careful: While you’re watching them, you could get hurt as you really don’t know if you still appear human to them in their distorted reality – or just another alien to butt-kick.

Inhalants can include nitrates (i.e., solvents like rugby) and even gasoline. As long as it’s strong-smelling: glue, petrol, cigarette lighters, hair sprays are addiction on the cheap.

Nature: depressant/stimulant (depending on the inhalant used)

Warning signs: unkempt image

Short-term effects: slurred speech, drunk (dazed) appearance

Long-term effects: depression, brain damage, seizures, death

#8: Bath Salts


This has not been mainstream in the Philippines but many have started to experiment with this.

What makes this so scary is that this drug has been noted to bring the level of “distorted reality” a notch higher. Disturbing reports include a CNN report posted on YouTube of drugged Americans becoming a zombie, eating the face of another live human for instance.

Nature: stimulants (synthetic) prescribed synthetic cathionones

Warning signs: total loss of social life

Short-term effects: excited delirium, elated feeling

Long-term effects:hallucinations, “seeing things”, paranoia

#7: Crack Cocaine


Crack cocaine or “crack” is cocaine that is free-based usually using baking soda as the base. Since this is lower in purity than cocaine, crack is less expensive and smokable, making it an attractive alternative to the real thing.

Recently, headlines went wild with news of an 8.7 kilos of crack cocaine were smuggled into the country. Street price: PhP 40 million.
Nature: stimulant [serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor]

Warning signs:extremely “touchy”, emotional

Short-term effects: intense high followed by intense depression, loss of appetite or sleep

Long-term effects: respiratory problems, lung damage, bleeding, severe depression

#6: Cocaine

Inhaled usually through the nose or “snorted”, cocaine arguably is the most popular drug in the world – though enjoying far less success in the Philippines. The reason for this is price.

Cocaine is expensive and has been labeled the “caviar of street drugs”. Still the same, dependence on this powerful central nervous system stimulant is one dangerous enemy the Pinoy state is facing. Just recently, a huge stash of high-grade cocaine found its way to Philippine shores. Street price: PhP 300 million.

Nature: stimulant [serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor]

Warning signs: restlessness

Short-term effects: elevated mood, feelings of supremacy

Long-term effects:heart attack, stroke, impaired ejaculation

#5: Opium


Don’t be fooled by these beautiful poppy plants. It is said that Great Britainwent to war with China because of opium – the dried sticky stuff of the opium poppy – and the control of it (i.e., Opium Wars). Because of that war, Hong Kong was ceded to the Europeans (which has been given back to China).

Since the time of the Spanish, the government has operated an opium monopoly, a problem inherited by the Americans. In fact, a cholera epidemic in 1902 only served to make opium mainstream as “constipating qualities of alkaloids in opium” were used to help save lives. Although prohibition was eventually passed to law, opium addiction is still present.

Other by-products of the drug: morphine, codeine, pethidine, heroin

Nature: stimulant

Warning signs: poor personal hygiene and grooming, mood swings

Short-term effects:feelings of well-being, lack of inhibitions, pupil constriction, slurred speech

Long-term effects:lung abscesses, endocarditis

#4: Ecstasy (MDMA)


Called as “party-pills” many on the high-end of Philippinesociety, do not seriously think of them as dangerous drugs ingesting one to get into “party-mode”. Mimicking the effects of methamphetamine stimulants, however,many have formed serious addiction to these expensive synthetic drugs.

Nature: stimulant[3,4-methylenedioxyNmethylamphetamine]

Warning signs: irritability, agression

Short-term effects: mental stimulation, emotional warmth

Long-term effects: heart failure, lack of appetite, panic attacks

#3: Heroin


Injected right through the veins and having about twice the strength of morphine, heroin arguably is the most dangerous product-result of the opium poppy plant. Today, heroin’s addictiveness property is legendary. It is said, its ability to reduce pain and induce pleasure makes it the hardest drug to kick for addicts – like tearing a limb from your own body.

Heroin is the illegal form of morphine, the substance many Filipino doctors still prescribe today as a powerful pain relief, analgesic. The problem is many who are considered pillars of society (e.g, actors, athletes) have developed dependence on the drug’s prowess. PDEA has cited that many drug addicts in their advanced stage ultimately resort to heroin.

To date, Afghanistan is the world’s major supplier of illicit raw opium, 87% of the world supply though Mexico is also fast catching up.


Warning signs:syringe marks on arm

Short-term effects: immediate feelings of intense pleasure, confusion, decreased heart rate

Long-term effects: irregular heart beat, nausea, vomiting, death

#2: Marijuana


In many instances, marijuana has been most instrumental in “rolling the red carpet” providing easy entry of many non-suspecting teens into the world of drug addiction. Via peer pressure. Marijuana or scientifically called Cannabis is cheap and prices of dried leaves peddled – secretly – on the streets have not changed much over the years. Because of this, many Marijuana addicts have in time added shabu in their short list of go-to drugs.

What makes marijuana intriguing is that it actually has medical uses. Fact is, medicinal marijuana has been a drug of prescription for many American doctors.

Nature: depressant/hallucinogenic

Warning signs: sleep disorders

Short-term effects: distorted perception, reddening of the eyes, rapid heartbeat

Long-term effects: decreased appetite, anxiety

#1: Shabu


For sheer number, Shabu or metamphetamine hydrochloride is simply the devil incarnate in the Philippines and it gets the top spot.

Over 95% of drug dependents in the Philippines are into shabu. It is estimated close to 7 million or nearly 10% of the Philippine population use the drug. What’s even intriguing is addiction has been found in all ages, from the extremely young – like 10 years old – to the extremely old – like 80 years old.

A neurotoxin and potent psychostimulant, shabu has been dubbed as the “poor man’s cocaine” being a lot cheaper than pure cocaine. In the U.S. drug is also known as “Meth” or “crystal Meth” or “ice”. Addiction to this drug is also the stuff of legends. Countless sachets of shabu has been smuggled into prison for instance, in the most creative fashion – inside a ladies’ high-heeled shoes, sewn under the skin and even inside the female genital.


Warning signs: inability to follow a routine

Short-term effects: elevated mood

Long-term effects: psychosis, cerebral hemorrhage

This info-tainment is based on PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) data. For more details, please look into ithere.

The scenario is bleak. Where there were but 20,000 drug addicts in 1972 today over 6.7 million Pinoys have become dependent on drugs in a US survey in 2004 – and that number is rising. And for many of these denizens who have gone down the proverbial rabbit-hole of addiction, enjoying the fantasy lands of all sorts – hallucinations of grandeur, illusions of fame or what-not – or just the plain emotional “high”, up to today, it may take more than a lifetime to get them back into a normal life.

Take this news-bit from PDI (Inquirer) written by Jerry E. Esplanada as posted online:

Citing Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency records, it reported that last year PDEA “conducted 9,850 anti-illegal drug operations resulting in the arrest of 8,491 suspects and 9,995 cases being filed.”

Philippine authorities “seized 250 kilos of methamphetamine valued at $68 million (about P2.92 billion); 4.8 million marijuana plants and seedlings and 818 kilos of marijuana with a total value of $17.4 million (P748 million); 17,222 grams of cocaine worth $2 million (P86 million); and 960 Ecstasy tablets valued at $26,790 (P1.15 million).”

Title of the article above is: UN drug report: Philippines has highest rate of shabu use in East Asia. And this is just in 2012.

Needless to say, this is a super-mountain of work – a Mt. Everet if you will. Problem is many Filipinos take a callous stance – until the problem is right at their door and one of their family members is suffering. Which makes it close to impossible to solve.Stop the denial before it’s too late. In this regard, Narcotics Anonymous can be a good start.

Before I end, a little prompt for the message board below, there are a thousand ways to minimize this problem, I’d like to here what you think is best.

“Some, they didn’t make it.

The temptation just too strong.

How can darkness cloud the mind

To what I know as wrong?”

― Kimberly Nalen, Beautiful Junkie: Poems about Addiction and Recovery

Ciao, sport!

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4 Responses

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  1. Anonymous says:

    #2 is incorrect. It is not the leaves that are smoked, but the flower. Additionally, we all know the crusade against Marijuana is ridiculous. If it leads to meth, then alcohol leads to heroine.

    • says:

      No doubt the cannabis issue has been a tug of war for the longest time already. We just hope there’s going to be an end to it and maybe it can cure cancer and what not. We do find it weird that MJ is banned while there has been very few (if any) crimes that have directly resulted from its use while alcohol on the other hand has millions directly attributed to it. Oh how cruel our world is no doubt.

  2. No one says:

    what was the date of this top 10.

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