The Problem with “Awa” or Sympathy for Drug Users

This woman’s picture made the rounds with her rather questionable message, “I’am a drug user, will you kill me? #break the stigma.” Let me guess what she means: illegal drug use is should not be seen as a bad thing, and that it is being used as an excuse or false reason to kill someone. So to stop people killing them, stop seeing illegal drug use as bad and have sympathy or “awa” for the drug user. The supposed opposition embraces this message as a counterpoint to President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. Opposition to that campaign is all right with me. But saying that drug users deserve only sympathy is quite wrong.

Well, perhaps that sympathy has some basis. Some of them might have seen the video below by Kurzgesagt. It posits that the reason people take drugs is an environment of uncaring, selfish and unsupportive people.

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The video isn’t really wrong. I myself lament how cruel the Philippine environment is. There is indeed much to improve in it. But I also believe there is a better way to deal with such an environment than drug use. That is a topic I addressed in my article about highs. Drug users only want seek to escape the pain of the world via forced stimulation of their brain chemicals. They may be depressed and feel no other way out, but are taking the cop-out path.

That idea of sympathy for drug users seems to imply giving them a free pass, that they did nothing wrong. Do they deserve that?

No. Drug users chose their condition. It is the result of a decision, not happenstance. The drug user’s condition is also their responsibility. They chose the easy way out.

This sympathy angle also paints the drug users as only victims – never mind that the victims willingly purchase the drugs themselves. Sort of like shooting oneself in the foot. It’s victim mentality again, and painting the drug users as only victims misses a vital point. The fact is, they are the consumers, and it’s been said that if you buy something, you support whoever’s peddling it. Pushers won’t be successful without customers. Even if they don’t buy it themselves, the fact is, they are consuming it. And the illegal drug problem is serious for many. Quoting Wikipedia, according to the 2011 UN Drug Report, the Philippines has the highest methamphetamine hydrochloride abuse rate in East Asia.

I’m not against rehabilitation, I support that step rather than killing them. But the drug user patient needs to bear their own responsibility. I’ll use the same approach as to someone who has, let’s say, schizophrenia. You may have sympathy for someone with this mental condition. But what if you realize a trigger of the latest schizophrenic episode was, the patient wanted another person’s spouse. And when she was foiled (but of course), she was angry and depressed and fell into her mental state. So, considering what she wanted, is she just a victim, someone who should be “given all the love,” “let free of stress,” and told “it’s okay, there’s nothing wrong about what you did?” Or did she want something that she shouldn’t have because of sense of entitlement, so her condition is self-inflicted?

Sure, show a little mercy. But show some justice, too.

Also, the woman in the picture should be told that being a drug user is against the law. The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (RA 9165) makes possession of illegal drugs a criminal act. Drug users, by virtue of using them, possess the drugs. So treating drug users as criminals is not a stigma, because what they’re doing is a crime. And, as I explained above, drug use does indeed involve a personal moral failure on the part of the person. You can’t say they did nothing wrong.

Back to the woman in the picture; if she opposes that law that “stigmatizes” drug use, she’s welcome to badger her congressman to change it. Good luck. But saying “I’m a drug user” would invite some unwanted attention, attention that may involve a rather uncomfortable investigation, and is thus, unwise.

And sticking to that virtue signal of sympathy is what damns the “opposition” in the eyes of the people who voted Duterte. Because, for the latter, sympathizing means approving of the illegal drug users’ (and dealers’) wrongdoing.

23 Replies to “The Problem with “Awa” or Sympathy for Drug Users”

  1. The last thing we need is the further glamorization of drug use. Don’t we get enough of that in TV shows? Before this war on drugs started, you must admit that at least some of us looked up to the user/pusher as someone above the law or ‘astig,’ so please, lets not go back there.

    1. Yeah, agreed. Today’s crazy problems is based on “angelizing” or sanitizing people who do wrong. For example, Kadamay group who just want to grab homes (landgrabbers!), but they say they have the right to do so because they’re poor. Oh, snatchers and muggers, being poor for them justifies doing crime. They want impunity, too.

    1. You missed the point. The point is, an “activist” slogan that sends across a message that is premised on the messenger being a drug user essentially is a shot at one’s own foot. Focus on the message, not the messenger.

  2. The woman in the picture wants sympathy for her drug use. I rarely see drug users being murdered. It is the drug dealers, drug pushers, drug runners who are murdered. Mostly they shoot each other for territories.

    Criminals and evil people, are in drug business, because, if they hook people on illegal drugs like Shabu. The Addicts, will do illegal things, or even sell their souls, for the next Shabu fix.

    Drug addicts need to be rehabilitated, and get out of their addictions. If they are willing. Shabu drug dealers and other illegal drug dealers must be dealt with , with the full force of the law.

    The war on drugs, will be bloody , full of corruption, and will even entice people of authorities, to get rich.

    Mexico and Columbia are example of Narco states. In Mexico, the Mexican army is the Mexican Police. The Mexican Police is too corrupt to perform its duties. Narco politics are also in both countries. Politicians are funded by illegal drug money. Many millionaires from selling illegal drug, however, many lives destroyed by these illegal drugs !

      1. You somehow missed that it should not be blamed on the present government on those ‘exaggerated’ numbers yet you loved Flips being murdered before Duterte came into power, is it?

        1. NO, FLIP-TARD, I do not condone cold-blooded murder. FACTS ARE:after Dueterte declared that he would ‘GIVE A MEDAL’ to anyone who killed a Drug-User/Seller the murder rate skyrocketed and most dead people were Drug-User’s/Seller’s, SO WHO DO YOU BLAME ? Trump congratulates Dueterte for cleaning up the DRUG PROBEM (THRU MURDERS!) but YOU DON’T THINK DUTERTE IS TO BLAME? GET A CLUE FLIP-TARD, you need some.

        2. You’re missing the point, son.

          Gotta go with ChinoF here. That “General call” right there isn’t an evidence. You should GET A CLUE, son. Because you have a moronic logic right there.

  3. In psychological theory, safety and security needs are prioritized over concepts like sympathy. Most people can probably sympathize with drug users, but their fear of crime and violence associated with illegal drugs overrules the “awa” factor.

  4. You can’t save others from themselves because those who make a perpetual muddle of their lives don’t appreciate your interfering with the drama they’ve created. They want your poor-sweet-baby sympathy, but they don’t want to change.

  5. The sign says nothing about FEELING SORRY FOR or the legalizing of STREET DRUGS. it could just be that the young Lady thinks as most civilized people think and that drug use/possession doesn’t warrant a DEATH PENALY,especially a DEATH PENALTY meted out before an arrest trial and conviction! Last it was seen, DUE PROCESS is still the right of every Filippine citizen, that is, until this Cro-Mag that occupies the Palais came along.
    GRP will not be so Pro Deuterte/Cro-Mag when FREEDOM OF THE PRESS is also done away with and an anti-CRO-MAG article lands the author in solitary confinement over at BILBD PRISON, Yes?Well see how you all like this Cro-Mag buffoon masquerading as a HEAD OF STATE when that happens!

    1. Well, criminals and killers don’t observe due process, so good luck appealing to whoever is shooting all those people out there. You can’t blame them on government. And our Cro-Magnon leader was voted by 16 million voters. So I guess that makes 16 million Cro-Magnons? But that isn’t really wrong, considering our culture.

      1. Your logic is moronic Sonny, but I am not surprised by it. After living in the country for almost a decade, its is the prevailing logic…and it is IDIOTIC. BUT that is not the point here, these MURDERS CAN BE DIRECTLY BLAMED ON DUETERTE, oh yes they can ,and they are RIGHTFULLY blamed on Dueterte. HE MADE A GENERAL CALL FOR THEM and then he RENEGGED ON HIS OFFER OF GIVING THE KILLER’s MEDALS, just like the FLIP BULL-SHIT ARTIST THAT I KNEW HE WAS/IS.
        Filipino’s have been tricked again, into thinking that there new leader is somehow not a tool of the Oligarchs and Puppet of the USA DEPT of STATE. BUT a year on after his election the same exact problems exist and nothing has changed except that ‘DUE PROCESS’ is no longer in effect and that is TRAGIC….and if you say it is in effect, well then what about the 7,500 DEAD ‘ALLEGED’ Drug-User’s/Seller’s that were denied ARRESTS/TRIALS/CONVICTIONS and got the death penalty straight away? There is NOTHING you can say that can negate my assertions, NOTHING. These facts are immutable, prevailing and part of the culture NOW, and until Dueterte declares otherwise, will be in effect and spread like a cancer to other freedoms, like FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, and then GRP will have REAL problems. OH YES THEY WILL…and if you think other ‘RESTRICTIONS’ are not coming, just wait and see,! One thing about FLIP POLITICS…they are more predictable than the weather.

        1. Nah. That “General call” Duterte made isn’t evidence of link to killings. Believing it is so is the moronic logic.

        2. NO, its the truth and it hurts you because you somehow think this guy Dueterte is a legit politician…HE IS NOTHING OF THE SORT, or maybe the legitimate corrupt psychopathic lying thieving weasel politician is you sort of legitimate? EH? IDK, dont care either . He is a CRONY for the Oligarchs and a USA State Department puppett that has called for the Genral Public to do the work of the corrupt police, and that is, murdering his own citizens and getting away with it.

  6. They gloss over as much shit as you do. Both you fucks — that girl with the slogan and you with your “kill all who don’t march in lockstep” both want easy non-solutions that in the end lay waste to even more people but at least make you feel like you’ve done something terribly important when in reality all you’ve ever done is play with yourself.

    1. At least you acknowledge that girl is doing something wrong. But we at GRP would contend that our messages are more relevant, Because we put actual thought into them, not knee-jerk emotions.

  7. That message that female is wearing is just wrong. “Break the stigma” conveys that there’s nothing wrong with drug usage, and that the problem lies within those holding opposing views. However, I do believe it is wrong to kill drug users and that they should be given opportunities for rehabilitation; those not interested must face the harsher consequences of breaking the law.

    This poster emits an attitude of righteousness and arrogance which, in essence, is twisted, given that drug usage is illegal (is she referring to tranquilizers or marijuana for medical reasons or illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine and the most common in the Philippines — methamphetamine?). Assuming that the poster is referring to illicit drugs, then there’s just no logic in that message.

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