Miss International 2016 Kylie Verzosa, whose advocacy is mental health awareness, said drug addiction is a sickness rather than a criminal act.
In an interview with GMA News' "News to Go" on Wednesday, the beauty queen said she shares the view of Senator Risa Hontiveros who believes that drug addiction should be treated as condition or a sickness, not a crime.
"I think you have to see addiction as a coping mechanism," Verzosa stated as she urged the public to join her in removing the stigma attached to addiction, depression, and other mental health issues.
"It starts from somewhere, it derives from somewhere. A lot of depressed people turn into...they look for something to get high again, get happy again...they turn to drugs. That's where the addiction starts," she said.
Verzosa said, "It is something mental, it is something that can be cured," adding that "it's something that the Philippines can really focus on as well, because they do forget the mental aspect of it."
The beauty queen said people can fall into this "vicious cycle" of seeking drugs to alleviate the symptoms or effects of mental health disorders, further falling into addiction.
According to Verzosa, there are many ways to address mental health issues, including the "Western" way of turning to prescription medication and the more natural way of exercising and leading a healthier lifestyle. — Aya Tantiangco/VVP, GMA News