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IN MY EYES: Shabu Ace

Mang Maing once had a friend who was like a brother to him.

Let’s call him Ace, fellas.

A former seaman, Ace is tall, good-looking and a prosperous businessman. He and his pretty wife manage a big store that sells appliances, electrical supplies, foam beds and all manners of stuff needed in every household. In a short time, he has become a millionaire and has extended his business to putting up a junk shop.

He has 2 kids, a boy and a girl, and the last time I saw the couple, his wife was 6 months pregnant.

Then suddenly, things changed.

Stories circulated that Ace would go out of house and walk barefooted in the streets at nights. He could be seen walking around the public market at midnight. People said he looked tense and problematic.

“I could not sleep,” he would say when confronted.

Then the unimaginable happened.

One day, PDEA operatives raided the house of a drug supplier and arrested the main man.

Ace was there, too, fellas. Investigation pointed to him as one of the buyers. In other words, he was a shabu user.But he said he was only there to collect payment installments for an appliance owed by the man.

His wife was devastated. Mang Maing was shocked, too. His friends and relatives could not believe what happened. The PDEA charged him for drug use and Ace posted bail.

Could this be the reason why he could not sleep and he had to go out at night because he had become an insomiac?

What can shabu do to one’s brain?

Methamphetamine, meth, crystal meth or shabu has become the drug of choice for many Filipinos and little do they know that meth changes the way their brain works, sometimes even damaging it permanently.

Below are the different effects meth has on the brain. Some are immediate, while some happen dramatically over time, without you even noticing. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Meth-induced brain damage

When you take meth repeatedly over time, the drug can create lasting damage in the nerve cells in many parts of your brain, especially the so-called pleasure center. Over time, the drug can impact your overall brain health, causing you to have impaired memory, memory loss, reduced ability to think clearly or logically, reduced ability to focus, reduced ability to regulate violent and aggressive urges

  1. Drug-induced psychosis

Its symptoms include sensory hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and abnormal repetition of certain body movements. Other effects of meth on the brain are tremors,  shakes, poor judgment skills, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

  1. Anhedonia or the inability to experience pleasure, happiness, or joy even from things that you previously enjoy. This can cause you to feel empty.
  2. Emotional changes which include irrational behavior, violent mood swings, and the need to have more of the drug or other ways to increase your dopamine levels in the brain.

Some of these damages to the brain are permanent, fellas.

You may not feel it now, but if you are taking meth, the drug is slowly yet definitely changing the way your brain works. Sooner or later, it can damage your brain in ways that you may never get to repair.

Psychiatrists say the effect of drugs on the brain could be so damaging as to cause paranoia even months after a person has already stopped using the substance

“Sa practice ko bilang private psychiatrist, ang nakikita ko ngayon is kine-claim ng mga pasyente is mga 2 to 3 months na silang tumigil, pero ang lumalabas ngayon ‘yung consequence ng nung paggamit, so karamihan sa kanila napa-paranoid,” Fareda Fatima Flores, president of the Philippine Psychiatric Association (PPA), said.

Five days before his inauguration, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed rehabilitation is no longer a viable option for people who are already addicted to shabu.

“If I couldn’t convince you to stop, I’ll have you killed… if you’re into drugs, I’m very sorry. I’ll have to apologize to your family because you’ll surely get killed,” he said back then.

Health Spokersperson Eric Tayag said the President knows what shabu can do.

“I think everybody was surprised….He knows that even if you get into [rehabilitation], many actually will show signs later of the permanent brain damage,” he told Rappler in an interview.

Tayag explained: “Unfortunately for shabu, there are no medications that act like an antidote, unlike for heroin and other classes of drugs. This involves counseling, spiritual [development], [and] family support.”

I also remember a neighbor many years ago, fellas.

Donnie was tall, robust and beaming with health. He had a booming business in the public market and I was one of his most loyal customers. One day, I noticed he got slimmer.

“Getting a better figure, eh,” I said one time I went to his place.

“Diet only, bro, you know stroke nowadays have claimed a lot of lives,” he quipped back. I agreed with him 100%.

“What do you do?”

“Errr… a… I exercise and I don’t eat rice at night. Try it bro, you need to shed some pounds, too,” he said.

Of course, I exercised a lot. I had, back then, a protegee whom I fetch every morning to play basketball in the church yard.

As the days passed, Donnie shed some more and at the rate of his weight loss, it seemed alarming. Even our other neighbors noticed that. He gradually shrunk to the bones!

Then, he died and the truth finally came out. He was into shabu.

Now, back to Ace, fellas.

Mang Maing said that after posting bail, Ace restructured his life. He is now back to the Ace of old.

His third child is a healthy, pop-out girl whom they named Acer.

“I don’t want to get killed by those riding-in-tandem, bro.” he said.

One thing is sure there is still a beautiful life after shabu.

Or better, life is most beautiful without shabu.

Take it or leave it.#