And yet, while drug users and low-ranking dealers are murdered outside the maximum-security compound, many of the country’s top drug criminals lead lives of relative comfort and continue their business from their own dedicated building. With a church, a school (where Morales and her team do their work), basketball courts and a medical facility, the compound resembles a small community — albeit one patrolled by 300 guards from the country’s Special Action Force in full combat gear, each shouldering an M16. (The battalion is a post-Duterte addition, deployed in mid-July but, so far, to little effect. In a raid led by dela Rosa himself, nothing much of consequence was seized: an unspecified quantity of pesos, and a few cell-phone signal boosters, was about all.)
More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.