Manila: The Philippines has opened its first ever reformation centre for youths hooked on solvents in a bit to take them off the streets and shepherd them to mainstream society.

Solvent abuse is an over looked form of addiction in the country and most of its victims are children, especially from the poverty-afflicted slums, according to Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Called the Project Sagip Batang Solvent (PSBS or Rescue Solvent Addicted Children) initiative, the endeavour aims to establish reformation centres across the country with the first put up last June 21, 2019 at Clemente Subdivision, San Agustin village in Quezon City’s, Novaliches district.

“PSBS aims to provide reformative care and reintegrated interventions like education, counselling, values formation, talent and skills development, livelihood and entrepreneurship training to youth hooked on inhaling solvent,” he said.

The facility in Clemente has bedrooms, mess hall, kitchen, toilets, receiving and entertainment room, study room, library, multi-purpose hall, music room, training room, garden, playground, security and staff making it more conducive to learning and values formation.

“As PDEA’s pilot reformation centre, this will serve as the model facility as we aimed to established reformation centers in different cities and municipalities nationwide,” Aquino added.

More commonly referred to in the Philippines as ‘Rugby Boys’ due to the brand of adhesive solvent they commonly use, these vagrants are a social concern as they also pose danger not only to themselves but to other people.

Some of them, during their glue-induced stupor, would engage in petty crimes such as robbery and mugging. The gangs also include minor-aged girls.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Department, street children are especially prone to glue addiction as solvents are relatively easy to acquire.

The American Academy of Paediatrics defines inhalant abuse “is the intentional inhalation of a volatile substance for the purpose of achieving an altered mental state.”

“As an important yet under-recognised form of substance abuse, inhalant abuse crosses all demographic, ethnic, and socioeconomic boundaries, causing significant morbidity and mortality in school-aged and older children,” it said.

Aquino said the crucial elements in ensuring that these youth do not lose their way are parents and the society in general.

“The country is confronted with the fear of losing its hope, the youth. If we let them roam the streets, they will be the future enemy of the State,” Aquino stresses.