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• Drug treatment program is opportunity for isle to help
Drug treatment program is opportunity for isle to help
By TOM McCALL
There is an application before the planning commission to grant a use permits for a new a drug and alcohol inpatient treatment program.
“HanaMana Healing Center” located in Kapa’a at the old Wong home care facility on Kawaihau road. The center plans to house up to 39 patients.
At the hearing there was consensus that Kaua’i is in dire need for a program of this nature. Off island treatment is limited and usually entails a long waiting period, and the family is unable to participate in the treatment process. This program is offering the where, how and when to this crisis at a time when no one else seems to have any proposals. It would appear that the location is ideal sense the facility already exists and would need minimal work to bring it into compliance.
It would seem this would be a slam dunk proposal. They have an experienced licensed clinical director on board that can design a program that would be unique to the needs of Kaua’i’s families.
So what is the problem? At the hearing some of the neighbors spoke up and said they don’t want it in their back yard. Some expressed concern and fear of having drug addicts and alcoholics roaming their neighbor hood, some had past experience with residents from the old Wong care center who would trespass on their property and even come up to their windows at night and look in. At the hearing some of the proponents to this proposal tried to alleviate the concerns by shedding light to the nature of a treatment center of this kind. One witness had years of experience with treatment programs throughout Hawai’i sense the early 70’s and had never heard of an instant where neighbors or neighborhoods were adversely affected by patients of such programs. Fear is often unreasonable. But in this case it is understandable. All one needs to do is read the newspaper, see a few movies and watch a few TV specials on the “ice problem” in Hawai’i and any one would say “Oh my God, keep them out of my neighborhood.” There is a tremendous stigma attached to addiction and people who have become addicted, unless you know someone who has received treatment it is hard to understand why one doesn’t need to be afraid.
Using addicts and those in treatment are like night day, a person who is addicted to drugs is under the influence of drugs, their behavior is unpredictable. A person who has been detoxified and is in a recovery treatment process is quite different. They are usually pretty beaten down and humiliated. They are serious about finding a solution to their problem, they are looking to find a way to live a drug free life and be productive and responsible members of this community. The images of addicts roaming the streets, breaking into homes and assaulting the neighbors is unfortunate because it doesn’t happen in this kind of setting. The last place a using addict wants to be near is a place where people are anti-drug use. A center of this type would be the first to spot suspicious behavior and report it to the police. There is a 50/50 chance it will happen at the Wong care center site, because the facility is there and the need is urgent. I am sure the people who will operate this site will be sensitive to the neighbors and will want to do everything in their power to alleviate their fears and will do all they can to minimize the changes. But it is still going to be in their back yard. If these residents have to shoulder the changes in their neighborhood and deal with their fears, what can the rest of Kaua’i do to support them? Sense this is a problem facing all of Kaua’i and all of Kaua’i is going to benefit. There were several real issues the neighbors raised that were legitimate, that they felt proposed an undue burden on them. 1. security 2. parking 3. fences 4. density. If the program becomes a reality for Kaua’i they will need funds and donations to install these things and to provide the needed in house security. Kaua’i will need to step up to the plate and let these neighbors know we care by supporting the needs of this center. So here we are at the cross roads, As the old saying goes “after all is said and done, there is usually more said than done.” We all know there is a grave problem on Kaua’i, and we all know we lack the resources to help our children, our family members and friends who are in trouble. So now we have opportunity to help.
Tom McCall is a Moloa’a resident.
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