Monday, May 23, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — While the slogan of the Hawai‘i Meth Project is “not even once,” that is not the message regarding adults talking to young people about the dangers of methamphetamine.
For those with children and grandchildren, it is never too early to start teaching them, telling them that drugs are bad, said Cindy Adams, executive director of the Hawai‘i Meth Project.
“Please have these conversations with them,” and it can’t be just once, but needs to be on a regular basis, Adams told a crowd of around 35 people, mostly adults but some children, at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center Monday evening.
That was after she addressed some students from Chiefess Kamakahelei and Kapa‘a middle schools earlier that day. On Tuesday, she was scheduled to visit Kaua‘i High with her “not even once” Powerpoint presentation.
The slogan is indicative of the highly addictive nature of methamphetamine, which in the crystal form is known as “ice,” and that trying the drug even once can start what had been a healthy, normal life on a rapid downhill spiral, she said.
It is so addictive because of its affects on the brain, causing a huge release of dopamine, causing feelings of euphoria and tremendous energy, she said.
A stimulant, methamphetamine also causes the heart to race, leading to lots of strokes and heart attacks in users, she said.
Meth is swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected, though most users smoke with glass pipes that are heated so that the ice is vaporized, with users inhaling the vapors into their mouth, throat and lungs, she said.
The addiction oftentimes causes users to no longer worry about how they look, as the drug takes over their lives, she said. “When all your focus is on getting high,” other things cease to matter, said Adams.
Hawai‘i ranks fourth nationally in the number of meth-related crime, with $43 million the figure attached to the cost of meth-related emergency-room visits in the state, according to hawaiimethproject.org. Use of meth among high school sophomores has soared 87 percent.
“This drug is directly linked to the destruction of families and a deterioration of the social fabric in Hawai‘i,” said Edward Kubo Jr., former U.S. attorney for Hawai‘i.
More grandparents are having to care for their grandchildren in Hawai‘i as their children are either missing, incarcerated or in recovery as a result of meth use, Adams said.
Still, there were words of hope in the presentation. “You have the power to choose to remain meth-free,” there are treatments that work, and it is never too late to get help, she said.
There are also signs and signals that young people may be taking meth, like changes in: Friends; Bathing habits; Moods; Grades; Behaviors (especially engaging in dangerous behaviors).
Children may also be suspicious of drug use in parents if parents exhibit the following signs, she said: They quit bringing their children to school; They quit cooking food for the children; They quit coming home except to eat and sleep; They quit spending as much time with their children.
“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” at home, at parties, she said to parents and children.
“If meth doesn’t take your life, it will take away everything that you care about,” said Adams.
Home should be “a place of strength,” not a place to get drugs, she said. And even adult users in the home (parents especially) have the right to tell their children not to make bad decisions, said Adams.
For those on meth who decide to stop, it can take between six months and a year to get normal feelings back, in part because of damage done to the brain by the drug, she said.
Some effects are reversible, while others, including drug-induced paranoia, may not be reversible, she said.
A series of television commercials has been airing on what meth can do to people. Those ads may be viewed at www.hawaiimethproject.org/View_Ads/index.php.
At this week’s sessions on Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity officials brought over 30 teens from the KEO after-school and homeless housing programs to hear and see the Adams presentation, with a similar presentation for parents.
The Hawai‘i Meth Project is a nonprofit organization that implements a range of advertising and community-action programs to reduce methamphetamine use in the state.
Launched in June 2009, the Hawai‘i Meth Project leverages a proven model that combines extensive research with a hard-hitting, integrated media campaign.
The Hawai‘i Meth Project is affiliated with the Meth Project, a national nonprofit organization with headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., aimed at significantly reducing first-time meth use through public-service messaging, public policy and community outreach.
In Montana, the Meth Project turned a state ranked fifth in the country for meth abuse to one ranked 39th, and saw declines in a five-year period of 63 percent in teen meth use, 72 percent in adult meth use, and a 62 percent in meth-related crimes.
Before the turnaround, half of all inmates were incarcerated for meth-related crimes, and half of all foster-care admissions were meth-related.
• Paul C. Curtis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or email@example.com.
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