Capacity enhancement on aftercare treatment for providers empowers Filipino drug dependents to overcome addiction

Aiming to fight drug addiction by supporting the recovery of drug dependents, the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) supported a project entitled, “Follow-up Study on Pilot-Testing A Manualized Tele-Synergistic Aftercare Program for Recovering Drug Dependents among 17 DOH-DATRCs.” As part of this initiative, a Capacity Enhancement on Aftercare Treatment was conducted from June 13 to 17, 2023, at the Swiss Belhotel Bluelane in Binondo, Manila.

Seeking to empower treatment providers with enhanced competencies in telehealth approaches, participatory action research (PAR), and health policy systems research (HPSR), the project equipped treatment providers with the necessary skill set to implement an evidence-informed, culturally-nuanced, cost-effective, and treatment-effective aftercare program. This program is a manualized telehealth version of the Synergistic Intervention Based on Life Skills Enhancement (SIBOLE) aftercare program, which has shown promise in aiding recovering drug dependents.

Renowned experts in various fields played a crucial role as speakers during the event, including specialists in addiction medicine, family medicine, behavioral therapy, health economics, health policy, and medical anthropology. Participants of the capacity enhancement came from different DOH-Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers (DATRCs) spanning across 10 regions in the Philippines.

In his opening message, PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya, conveyed through Mr. Jules Celebrado, PCHRD Mental Health R&D Program Manager, expressed PCHRD’s unwavering support for the activity, emphasizing the Council’s dedication to collaborating with key stakeholders, including the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), DOH, and the Addictus Research and Intervention Center. “The ultimate goal is to develop scientific solutions that aid in the recovery of drug-dependent individuals and work towards a drug-free country,” Dr. Montoya added. 

Dr. Leonard Estacio, Jr., the Project Leader of the PCHRD-funded study, provided an insightful overview of the capacity enhancement and expressed his commitment to overcoming challenges to benefit the Filipino people.

The comprehensive training covered a wide range of topics, encompassing legal, medical, and social aspects of treatment and rehabilitation, as well as aftercare and follow-up support for Persons Who Use Drugs (PWUDs). Participants were equipped with practical knowledge on managing and preventing relapse and learned how to facilitate the integration of PWUDs and Recovering Drug Dependents (RDDs) back into the community. Key areas emphasized during the sessions included adopting a healthy lifestyle, building strong social relations, fostering self-development, and honing community reintegration skills.

Beyond empowering treatment providers with advanced skills to deliver effective aftercare to PWUDs, the event highlighted the crucial role of research in developing evidence-based and cost-efficient interventions for drug-dependent individuals. By identifying and addressing concerns from treatment to continuity of care and recovery, this initiative is designed to cater to the specific needs of Filipino PWUDs/RDDs, creating a sustainable and positive impact on communities.

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