Making the Fight Against Drug Addiction More Effective

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A Jan. 17, 2005, ”’Honolulu Star Bulletin”’ newspaper story read; “Ku’uipo Carroll-Vierra remembers sitting with her estranged mother shortly after giving birth to her first child and smoking crystal Meth, or ‘Ice’ for the first time. She was 14. By 20 she had given birth to four children and lost them all to foster homes and adoption.”

This story is one drawn out, lousy looking chain reaction of bad choices that no doubt goes on and on into other generations.


People need help fighting drug addition, that is an absolute fact. If it takes a school room ceiling falling down on our children for the Department of Education to “investigate” how to stop deteriorating schools from hurting our children, what exactly is it going to take to stop the crashing down of drug addiction on these same children and their families?

The Jan. 17 story continues: “Everyday treatment providers say they collectively turn away 150-250 adults seeking help.”

That’s a fair and accurate indication of a lack of emphasis on prevention. The need to fund treatment and rehabilitation should not come at the expense of missing the opportunity to prevent one child from getting hooked.

Are these centers for rehabilitation and treatment working and how is success being measured? Return on investment? Bodies in Beds? What?

The bigger these centers get the more we have to pay for their administration, insurance, and growing staff, which might be why there is a specific political contest over them.

The monies distributed by Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration that go to these centers are going to achieve what? Please, someone tell me exactly how these funds are going to prevent a dope plague from riddling our communities?

I picked up some literature from Hina Mauka, a drug recovery center in Kaneohe. Hina Mauka’s mission statement is; “… to provide prevention, treatment and recovery services to individuals, families and communities touched by alcoholism, chemical dependency, and related challenges.”

Fair enough. This is the mission statement used to fundraise. I talked to Hina Mauka’s fundraiser, who emphasized to my small visiting group that prevention was a big priority. I asked him to point out how Hina Mauka utilized financial resources specifically for prevention — the first and foremost priority on the mission statement.

Not only could he not tell me one instance in the past year where dollars went toward prevention, but he got very frustrated with the question itself. In reaction to my probing, he got up from his chair, walked over to Hina Mauka’s Mission Statement on the wall and crossed out the word prevention. I wonder if his recent donors knew he did that.

I picked up an Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Performance Outcome Statement from Hina Mauka for State Fiscal Year 2003 (July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2003) showing the results after 6 months, including follow-ups that were completed from a sample of 712 adolescents. Here are two highlights:

*52.4 percent showed “No Substance Use in 30 days Prior to Follow-up”

*81 percent showed “No Psychological Distress Since Discharge”

What are we accomplishing given the above numbers and how accurate are they?

Twenty-eight percent went back to drugs for no psychological reason at all? This is absurd. Also this was a question and answer study. Would real drug testing altar the findings? Further more, what has been the outcome 1 or 2 years out. Do we want to know?

So what are the answers? What could have saved Ms. Vierra ”’in the beginning?”’

We do not force parents to be “nurturing” parents, to teach the power of choice.

But, we do force kids to go to school. It is law. Could we not ”’teach”’ a child the consequences of ICE or other poor choices, thus saving the family of a child, the community and our society the unbearable suffering of drug addiction?

Wouldn’t this help eliminate treatment, rehabilitation and the seemingly viral growth of Hawaii’s drug problems?

With prevention, we can get creative. We can focus on elimination of the problem altogether.

”’Jim Cone, the president of Matrix Media of Hawaii, can be reached via email at”’

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