Briones on Friday expressed alarm over reports she received that some high school students were hospitalized after consuming mushrooms that have hallucinogenic properties.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman/File
High School students using ‘shrooms’ as narcotics — DepEd chief
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Education Secretary Leonor Briones warned authorities that some high school students are turning to deadly psychedelic mushrooms as alternative to illegal drugs.

Briones on Friday expressed alarm over reports she received that some high school students were hospitalized after consuming mushrooms that have hallucinogenic properties.

“I know three high school students who were hospitalized and brought to the ICU (intensive care unit) because they ingested these wild mushrooms they got from somewhere,” she said at a press conference after the two-day summit on the rights of the child in education.

“We should be looking into this because young kids are looking for drug substitutes,” she added.

The secretary did not provide details on the students who were supposedly hospitalized, but noted that they obtained the mushrooms by looking for it “on the hills.”

“These mushrooms are not forbidden by law. These are accessible (especially in rural areas),” she added, noting the long tradition of using hallucinogenic mushrooms in rituals and ceremonies.

But she stressed the need to address the problem as there are studies showing the dangerous effects of these mushrooms.

“We have to look into this. It could be more dangerous because it’s not illegal, because it’s easier to find in the countryside,” she added.

Drug education

Briones assured the public that drug education is part of the curriculum in basic education.

“Since 2016, when this new administration took over, we were instructed really to give attention to drug education starting from the age of nine years old. That is Grade 3,” she said.

“It’s ladderized, increasing in level of intensity and details up to the time that the child finishes K-12. It’s already in the curriculum, but there has to be new methods that should be introduced,” she added.

Last year, the Department of Education (DepEd) rolled out detailed lesson plans as part of its efforts to integrate drug education in the curriculum.

Briones said the lesson plans contain a detailed description of the steps on how a teacher will teach the topics focusing on life skills.

“The DepEd has been a strong advocate of demand reduction of dangerous substances and educating about the health and social consequences of drug abuse,” she said following the release of the materials.

“There are ongoing efforts to align to international standards, such as the universal prevention curriculum for substance use to further strengthen the department’s program in the area of curriculum and instruction,” she added.

According to DepEd, the government’s preventive drug education policy in schools will be delivered to students through interactive methods and positive messaging.

“Preventive drug education is a whole-school issue, and promoting a drug-free learning environment that supports student development and academic achievement is everyone’s responsibility,” read the policy.

“Drug-related learning outcomes should be anchored on learning areas such as Health Education and Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao to ensure progression and continuity, but preventive drug education concepts should be integrated with other learning areas,” it added.

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