'Shabu' Dealers Use Freebies To Hook Filipino Students

By John Lavitt 06/24/14

Crystal meth has become one of the most abused drugs in the Philippines, thanks to drug dealers practically giving it away.

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Nicknamed Shabu in the Philippines, methamphetamines are given by Filipino drug dealers to students almost for free, making the drug the most abused on the island nation.

According to anti-drug operatives in the Philippine National Police, the goal of the freebies is to get the kids hooked and drug-dependent. The PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) raised the alarm about this nefarious strategy of free access for teenage students to the dangerous drug.

A United Nations report from 2009 declared that methamphetamine is the “most used” illicit drug in the Philippines. Chief Inspector Roque Merdegia explained the strategy of the drug dealers in detail when he said, “Actually it’s not that the drugs are sold cheap, but they’re free…The pusher gives it for free until the student becomes dependent and becomes his regular customer. So it’s affordable, free at first in order to entice (the students) until they are forced to buy at the regular price.”

Although the high school and college campuses in Manila are protected by security guards, drug dealers are using students already addicted to methamphetamines as couriers. This strategy makes sense considering that the penalty for possession of Shabu in the Philippines is anywhere from life imprisonment to death.

By convincing Shabu-dependent students to be their go-betweens, offering the meth to other students, the drug dealers are winning a deadly battle. The free distribution of the highly addictive drug becomes easier to achieve while appearing somewhat innocent. Even though most of the students lack both income and financial resources, pushers choose to target them because of their age. Once hooked, a young drug addict becomes a very profitable lifetime customer.

As a result, operatives of the anti-drug force are under orders to intensify campus operations. Whether the enforcement angle is drug buy-busts or court-warranted police searches, the hope is a restoration of the safety of the schools. Merdegia explained how many of the schools reached out to the department. “There is one university that asked for our help because drugs are being sold right in front of the campus and so there may be pushing inside the campus. If there are 20,000 students, that’s a big business.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.