Medical doctor leaves behind drug addiction
By Yolanda Sotelo
ALAMINOS CITY – Even a medical doctor who knew the ill-effects of illegal drugs to health and life, can succumb to the lures of drugs, “leaning” on the prohibited substances for temporary reliefs from griefs.
“I knew about the damage that illegal drugs can cause, but I had serious personal problems and I turned to drugs for comfort,” Epifanio Bugayong Billon, 57, a general medical practitioner, said.
Billion’s addiction to the illegal drugs spanned “perhaps 35 years,” and stopped only sometime in August this year. He still tested positive for shabu residues on August 5, but already tested negative two weeks later.
Billon said while he actually smoked marijuana right after graduation from a medical school in Dagupan City, it was when he was assigned as a doctor at the former Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police when he started getting hooked on shabu.
He was assigned then in Zamboanga when he had his first tastes of the chemical, he recalled.
One time, he went back to the city for a vacation, he noticed that when he was having drinking binges with his friends, he was always the first who got drunk, while the others stayed sober much longer.
It was during a much longer vacation leave when he “discovered piso-piso” when his “friends” had shabu party.
The “piso-piso” meant that a group of friends would contribute P100 to buy packets of shabu and those who contributed money are allowed to join the “session.”
His intense addiction to the illegal substance intensified sometime in the early 2000s when he went through serious health and personal and family problems.
He had a stroke, his parents died months apart – his mother in May 2001, and his father in August that year. Worse, his wife separated from him and left for abroad. They had no children.
The heartbroken Billon wanted to be re-assigned in Luzon but his superior refused, so he retired early and went back to Alaminos.
He ran as councilman of barangay Palamis where he served for two terms until 2013, during which he still had sniffs of shabu.
After his terms as councilman, he returned to drug use.
But Billon still practices in a hospital here, where the management trusts him enough to handle patients. He also holds free checkups twice a week for indigent patients at the St.
He has taken the big step to turn his life around, thanks to the support of his family, church leaders, government officials and the police .
“Although the backing of these institutions make kicking the habit easier, even without them, it is very possible for addict persons to leave the addiction behind if one is determined to turn life around,” he said.
Billon was one of the 654 drug personalities in the city who surrendered to the police last week of July, pouring out his life story before the other surrenderees and encouraging others to join him in his journey towards a drug-free life.
The city government was a real source of support, he said, through monthly and weekly assemblies during which they are lectured on the ill-effects of drugs and inspiring them to leave addiction behind.
The city government gave him vegetable seeds to start his own garden in the yard of his sister’s house, and tending the garden becomes a sort of detoxification process for him.
“I have string beans, okra, ampalaya, tomatoes and sweet potatoes in my garden,” he proudly said.
He also walked every morning from his residence (“my sister’s house”) to the church which is less than a kilometer away. He walks back again when it is not raining. To sweat out the toxins, he cleans the house every weekend.
It was the ate (older sister) who was one of his “rocks,” the one who kept motivating him to leave drugs. Last December, when she was in the city on vacation from abroad, that they had a heart-to-heart talk.
He listened to her advice but can’t easily do away with drugs and still had a taste then and now.
When the police and the city government went around villages to ask drug personalities to surrender, he did, even persuading other users/pushers to go with him.
“I can see the sincerity of the church, city government and police officials. So I said to myself, why not cooperate and turn a new leaf?”
Entry filed under: News.