Rhyselle Descallar (right), head of the Oro Wellness and Development Center, shares experiences of treating people who use drugs during a community-based drug rehabilitation training in Cagayan de Oro City in 2019. Photo credit: Chaz Mabunga

USAID RenewHealth – Expanding Access to Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation in the Philippines

The Challenge

Approximately 1.8 million people in the Philippines use drugs, according to a survey by the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). The Philippine government believes this number is significantly higher.

In 2016, the government launched a campaign against illegal drugs and 1.6 million people ‘surrendered’ to government authorities to avoid mandatory capture. The DDB declared that 95 percent of voluntary users who surrendered would be treated in communities. However, to date, only 15 percent of individuals who have responded to the government’s call on anti-illegal drugs campaign have received appropriate treatment interventions.

Overview and Objectives

In response, URC is implementing USAID RenewHealth, a five-year project that promotes social integration and increases the accessibility of drug treatment and rehabilitation within the community.

Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation (CBDR) is an integrated model for helping persons who use drugs (PWUDs) with low to mild severity of use. It includes screening, treatment, recovery and family support, and aftercare and reintegration. RenewHealth’s goal is to help PWUDs, people in recovery, and their families obtain access to informal care self-help or community-based rehabilitation and recovery support to reduce or prevent drug dependence.

In partnership with Philippine government agencies – including the Department of Health (DOH), Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Department of the Interior and Local Government, and local government units – RenewHealth has begun several key activities:

  • Improving healthy behaviors of PWUDs, their families, and communities by providing technical support in the creation of evidence-informed and culturally-appropriate social and behavior change and community-based drug rehabilitation interventions;
  • Fortifying the quality of patient-centered and compassionate CBDR by providing evidence-based tools or interventions and build local capacities to implement CBDR services, as well as build a cadre of trainers and coaches, and culturally adapt tools and treatment interventions and materials; and
  • Strengthen policies and systems for sustainable CBDR by advocating for an enabling environment and contributing to the development of national and local policies to support the delivery of CBDR. This effort also seeks to help strengthen the ability of Philippine government institutions and the Anti-Drug Abuse Councils to deliver CBDR services.


In partnership with Philippine government agencies, such as the DOH, DDB, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and local government units (LGUs), USAID RenewHealth has: 

  • Reduced stigma and improved help-seeking behavior by reaching nearly 322,041 PWUDs from more than 20 priority LGUs with USG-supported social and behavior change communications messages and capacity-building activities. 
  • In partnership with the DOH, created Lusog-Isip (Healthy Mind) – the first mobile application for mental health and self-care for Filipinos. It is used by over 7,000 Filipinos since its launch in October 2021. Studies have documented significant improvements in well-being and coping behaviors.
Bantay and John is an animated short which shows how CBDR programs can help people who use drugs get treatment and recover from drug use.
  • Assisted the DOH develop the screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) toolkit, now the official screening tool by level of drug dependence. An online version (E-SBIRT) was launched by the DOH Academy to ensure continuity of training during the pandemic. As of September 2022, the project successfully trained 20 service providers on E-SBIRT. 
  • Trained 6,860 people in CBDR to institutionalize policies and systems for sustainable CBDR service delivery.
  • Developed the General Intervention for Health and Wellbeing Awareness intervention for low-risk users to ensure evidence-informed and appropriate treatments. Partnered with Psychological Association of the Philippines in developing the Katatagan (Resilience), Kalusugan (Health), Damayan ng Komunidad (Solidarity with the Community), or KKDK, for moderate-risk users and for Persons Deprived of Liberty (KKDK-PDL). KKDK was recognized by the DDB as a model treatment for CBDR. The BJMP has adopted KKDK PDL as a pre-release program.
  • Collaborated with the DSWD to develop an aftercare and reintegration program for recovering users, resulting in 235 key personnel and social workers trained on both aftercare and case management programs.  
  • Created a CBDR Portal that houses a learning management system and CBDR resources for service providers. 
  • Trained over 1,700 service providers in CBDR treatment interventions through combined online and face-to-face instruction. As a result, over 41,500 clients are enrolled in appropriate CBDR treatment interventions, with over 17,750 completing treatment.   
  • Developed the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) Aksyon! program to bolster local capacity to provide CBDR services to PWUDs, with 1,426 BADAC representatives trained.  
  • Advocated for evidence-informed and compassionate CBDR at an in-person conference on the success of CBDR held in September 2022 with over 4,000 participants. 




Community Health, COVID-19, Health Service Delivery, and Social and Behavior Change


Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and World Health Organization (WHO)