Koki leads addiction recovery efforts

Theresa Koki, the county anti-drug coordinator, wields a double-edged sword.

On one hand, she and a host of other community organizations and agencies are committed to stopping alcohol and drug abuse before it happens.

But what of those who have fallen into abuse?

That is the other edge on her sword as she is passionate about helping citizens in need to overcome addiction and rebuild their lives.

“We’re working hard to try and get them back into the community as productive citizens,” Koki said. “They could be members of your own family: a father, a mother or even your own brother or sister.”

A proclamation issued by Kaua‘i Mayor Bill “Kaipo” Asing celebrated September as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, and Koki and representatives from the numerous community groups involved in helping people beat addiction were on hand to accept the accolades for their work.

Alcohol and drug addiction can ruin lives and devastate families, the proclamation states. “We must continue working toward a society in which our citizens can lead lives free from the influence of alcohol and drugs.”

Koki, who is not alone in her crusade, said during the National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month the coalition of workers and volunteers seeks to raise awareness about the destructive cycle of addiction and work to provide assistance to those who suffer from substance abuse.

A free health fair earlier in the month hosted by these groups of individuals brought forth awareness of some of the damage that can wreck an individual’s body from substance abuse.

During that event, Councilman Mel Rapozo, as well as other attendees, was obviously shaken and moved when he viewed a collection of online videos showing Kaua‘i youth participating in illegal activities.

That health fair coincided with the national theme “Join the Voices for Recovery: Saving Lives, Saving Dollars” which encourages citizens to recognize the costs of substance abuse disorders as well as better understand the benefits that treatment can bring to the addicted, their families and the community.

Koki said the Drug Enforcement Agency is helping stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States by targeting the production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs.

The Drug Free Communities Program helps our neighborhoods develop strategies to prevent substance abuse, and on the other side, there is help for those who have fallen victim to addiction.

“It’s all about trying to get people to become part of the community again,” Koki

said.

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