Take the fight to methamphetamine use

Let’s get right to the point: Methamphetamine use is a problem on Kauai, and in Hawaii.

Consider this:

In 2016, Hawaii had 6.8 meth-related deaths per 100,000 residents, compared to the national rate of 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Meth-related deaths in the islands have outpaced opioid-related deaths in the rest of the U.S. for each of the past five years.

Nationwide, the number of meth-related deaths is increasing at a rapid rate, surpassing the rate of opioid-related deaths at the start of the opioid epidemic. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meth-overdose deaths increased four-fold over five years, from 2012 to 2017. For comparison, at the onset of the opioid crisis, the number of opioid-related deaths increased four-fold over 10 years.

Something needs to be done, which is why we’re glad to see that U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is calling on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to treat methamphetamine misuse as a priority and devote more federal resources to addressing the growing epidemic in Hawaii and across the country.

“By specifically targeting the growing problems of meth misuse and addiction, we can effectively prevent them from becoming a more serious crisis,” Schatz wrote in a letter to the director of the ONDCP. “And for communities, such as Hawaii, that are facing escalating problems of meth misuse, addiction and death, concerted federal interventions will help to reduce the number of deaths and serious harm from misuse and addiction.”

Meth misuse and addiction are serious and growing national problems.

There were four times as many deaths in 2017 as in 2012 — 2,600 deaths in 2012 to 10,300 in 2017, according to the press release from Schatz. Over that time period, 17 states bore the brunt of the increase in meth-related deaths, with the steepest increases in Ohio (130%) and West Virginia (94%).

In addition, within this growing number of meth-related deaths, Native Americans and Alaska Natives had the highest death rate and the biggest rate increase. In addition, as meth is less likely than opioids to lead to an acute overdose, statistics on meth-related deaths may underestimate the prevalence of meth misuse and addiction, he said.

“Meth misuse and addiction have been consistent problems in my state of Hawaii for decades, but over the past decade, meth-related deaths have risen dramatically, from 37 deaths in 2009 to 147 in 2018,” said Schatz.

The number of deaths due to meth overtook the number of both prescription-drug- and opioid-related deaths in 2015, and has spiked since then. Over the past decade, Hawaii’s meth-related death rate has been above the national meth-related death rate.

These high meth-related death rates are not limited to Hawaii, Schatz said.

West Virginia and Alaska have both experienced high meth-related death rates — 14 deaths per 100,000 people in West Virginia and 9 deaths per 100,000 people in Alaska. Importantly, meth-related deaths are increasing faster than opioid-related deaths at the start of the opioid overdose epidemic.

While opioid-related deaths quadrupled in the first decade of the opioid epidemic — from 3,400 deaths in 1999 to 13,500 deaths in 2009 — meth-related deaths quadrupled in half the time—from 2,600 deaths in 2012 to 10,300 in 2017.

We agree with Schatz that ONDCP should “prioritize efforts to stem and reduce meth misuse, addiction and deaths.”

“And for communities, such as Hawaii, that are facing escalating problems of meth misuse, addiction and death, concerted federal interventions will help to reduce the number of deaths and serious harm from misuse and addiction,” Schatz said.

  1. Jered Young December 14, 2019 5:16 am Reply

    Until we get honest about the corruption that allows the distribution of this and other to continue, nothing will get done. An occasional takedown will happen but nothing to the level that actually makes a dent in the problem. Why are the larger dealers virtually untouchable? Ask 50 random people on the street where to get drugs and you’ll know who the dealers are. More money doesn’t necessarily solve the issue. Honesty and courage will.

  2. jake December 14, 2019 6:14 am Reply

    No, you won’t fix the meth problem in Hawaii, because it’s very profitable. Too many upper crust businessmen have their hands in the meth profit pie, and, like Trump, they don’t care who gets butchered or killed between them and their profit margins.

  3. Where December 14, 2019 6:34 am Reply

    Where is all the Meth coming from?

    We all know where and this is the only thing the orange man is correct about.

    30 pounds of Meth was recently discovered during an arrest on Oahu. Where did that come from? Are there cooks in the islands?

    How is meth being imported to Hawaii?

    The state and county could buy a 3 million dollar x-Ray mobile truck to scan containers.

    MASFO can be held at Ports and the Airport but why doesn’t the Coast Guard in Hawaii schedule MASFO twice a year?

    That is the BIG Billion Dollar Drug Trade Question!!!!!!!

    If you don’t want to find something then don’t go looking for it. $$$$$$$$$$$

  4. Charlie Chimknee December 14, 2019 8:30 am Reply

    We rarely hear about our Sen. Schatz…and so on such an important topic, meth and drugs and death and addiction it would be hoped he would inform us of some plausible solution.

    Here on such a small island community, following the obvious users and addicted would apparently lead an investigator to the drug dealers and maybe the incoming transporter of the illicit drugs to the island.

    Obvious would be starting at places like the beach pavilions and surveillance them, along with bars, and drug houses neighbors complain of. Yet few arrests are made and the drug trade goes on.

    Does this mean the drug activity is tolerated, police don’t care, have better things to do, don’t like busting their cousin?

    What happened to the police chief in charge when drug dealers were arrested about every 6 weeks…he got replaced…odd…!

    So while Mr. Schatz is doing the TALK, he ain’t doing the WALK…SO POLITICIAN LIKE…EH?

    So while mostly young innocents guilty of stupidity enter the world of drugs and die or cause self accelerated degeneration of their own bodies, and others if they turn dealer…all the TALKING does nothing Mr.Schatz, we need HARD BOOTS ON THE GROUND GRINDING THE DRUG DEALERS INTO THE DIRT.

    And investigators need Quid Pro Quo, or This For That…Money for Information, paíd drug informers squealing on their drug dealer connection or their drug dealing rival.

    And because before a wonderful son or daughter gets sucked into drugs by the dealers or trusted or admired friend peer pressure…President Duterte of the Philippines has an excellent solution…Extra Judicial Solution…that means no need the formal use of cops (CONSTABLE of Police) or Judges. Maybe a form of straightening someone out with the help of the former Primo Warriors or some much needed Night Marchers to set a bewildered drug addict back on the Path of Straight and Narrow…or send them on their way if they are not from here, fear putting them into the Stand By Departure Line at the airport.

    The arrest log in the paper says possession but rarely distribution or sales of drugs and a mug shot of the perp in the paper for all to scorn on the street. And our prosecutor…is he accepting a change of plea for drug dealing? That ain’t good…!

    Come on Mr.Schatz, at your level of power can’t you legally use wire taps and all that JAMES Bond stuff to pull the drug dealers out of the shadows and into the dim light of a jail cell…or swifter yet a hospital bed or concertina wire gated rehab community?

    But for what we pay you along with free 1st Class airfare we as your constituents with foolish neighbors dying and other neighbors victims of theft and robbery we expect more out of you than statistics over a few years, we don’t need that, we see the statistics on the street with people on meth whose faces look like they are starving, we need action and not just baloney in the solution sandwich..otherwise mahalo for what you are doing for Kaua’i, let’s see, what is that?

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