Here’s hoping grant helps end substance abuse

Just say no to drugs.

If only everyone that could, would. But they don’t.

Substance abuse is a problem that continues to grow nationwide. One study found that nearly 21 million Americans ages 12 and older had a substance use problem in 2015. It found that of those with a substance abuse disorder, three out of four people had a substance use disorder related to alcohol, while one in three with substance use disorder had a disorder related to drug use and one in eight had a disorder related to both.

The report, based on the findings of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, went on to estimate that 27 million people in the U.S. used an illegal drug in the past month.

Hawaii may be far removed from the Mainland, but it’s not far removed from substance abuse.

“All of the illegal drugs that are available on the Mainland can also be found in the islands, with crystal methamphetamine (ice), marijuana, cocaine HCl, crack cocaine, heroin and predatory drugs being the leading threats in the state,” according Friends of Narconon.

According to a 2014 state Department of Health report on alcohol and drug abuse treatment services in Hawaii, adolescents comprised more than half (53 percent) of the nearly 4,000 clients who received treatment by the state DOH Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division in 2014.

At a six-month follow-up that same year, almost all adolescents (99 percent) who received services were attending school and the majority (61 percent) reported not abusing any substances in the 30 days prior to follow up. The vast majority of those adolescents continued to have no arrests, no hospitalizations, and no emergency room visits since discharge.

Last year, a California man pleaded guilty in a federal case Kauai police say resulted in the largest amount of crystal meth seized during a single bust on the island.

Kauai police found seven pounds of meth, with a street value of $1.6 million, in a Kauai home.

We bring that up so you know Kauai faces a drug abuse problem, and to highlight why it’s good news that the state DOH Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division has received a $3.04 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to provide funding over four years for the treatment of adolescents and transitional aged youth with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The grant is designed to bring together stakeholders who serve Hawaii’s adolescents, enhance and expand treatment services and implement financial mechanisms and other reforms that improve the efficiency of substance use disorder treatment efforts.

Officials say they are moving toward the goal of a drug-free Hawaii.

The grant will allow the state to expand the Hawaii Adolescent and Transitional Aged Youth Treatment Implementation project to increase rates of abstinence, enrollment in education, vocational training, employment and social connectedness — along with decreasing criminal and juvenile justice involvement among our youth.

ADAD’s treatment services are designed to promote a statewide culturally appropriate, comprehensive system of services to meet the treatment and recovery needs of individuals and families. Throughout this project, ADAD will have a coordinated SUD (substance use disorder) treatment services program with the department’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division, Family Guidance Centers, and four drug and alcohol treatment providers.

The goal is a statewide system of treatment that is more effective in utilizing existing resources and treatment methods to reduce substance abuse.

While there is a long road ahead for a drug-free America, and frankly, it may never happen, we must try. The state’s efforts to combat abuse will pay dividends, one person at a time.

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