Healing the hurt amid the drug war: Narratives of young urban poor Filipinos in recovering families with parental drug use

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This qualitative study explores the stories of young urban poor Filipino family members living with recovering parental drug users who turn themselves in to local authorities and completed theKatatagan Kontra Droga sa Komunidad (KKDK). This is a community-based rehabilitation program during the Philippine government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.


Young urban poor family members living with parental drug use were interviewed (n = 13) and asked to narrate their experiences of parental drug use, surrender, and recovery. Their stories were analyzed using an integrated approach to narrative analysis guided by Rhodes’ framework (2002) of risk environment.


Narrative work of participants focused on the stories of their parents’ drug use and recovery after surrendering. These stories show contexts which evoke the salience of prevailing discourse (i.e., cultural organization of Filipino family) and shaming practices in the community, and how these are embodied in the lives of our young participants. In re-telling their stories of parental drug use, our young participants (re) positioned themselves in three different ways: “I am used to it”, “I was neglected”, “I am angry and hurt”. After their parents completed the community-based rehabilitation program, they reconstructed their parents’ stories of recovery as a catalyst to improve their situation as a family unit (i.e., “their change is our change”).


Set against a national anti-illegal drug campaign, our findings contribute to a contextually nuanced perspective on the impact of parental drug use on children and families living in poverty. Policy makers and interventionists (e.g., mental health practitioners, social workers, psychologists) may need to consider young people’s stories as a struggle to exercise their agency when tailoring community-based programs to respond to the needs of younger people. Challenges to advocate for psychological, social, and structural ‘healing are discussed.