Thursday, August 15, 2013

Musings: Don't Blame the Youth

It's been 10 years since then-Mayor Bryan Baptiste proposed building a youth drug treatment center at the old Hanapepe dog pound, which the Kauai Humane Society had deemed unfit for animals.

Now a $50,000 county-funded study has finally confirmed that such a facility is both needed and possibly feasible, prompting Mayor Bernard Carvalho to boldly bite the bullet and announce he'll pick a site by the end of this year.

While it's great to see even this smidgen of progress, the study doesn't sit well. For starters, it totally skirts the use of meth/ice addiction, which I think we all recognize is ravaging our community. Why? I asked Theresa Koki, coordinator of the county's Life’s Choices Kauai, who gave me this response:

The current data gathered from adolescents usually ask about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The prevalent use of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs was higher than methamphetamine use.  Keeping in mind that youth who are meth dependent, normally do not attend school where these surveys are taken.  The consultants focused on the more prevalent drugs for adolescents.  

So since the ice-using kids missed the school survey, their needs aren't even considered? Aren't they the ones a rehab center is supposed to help? Or are we thinking that the island's rampant ice addiction only kicks in after age 18? 

Oddly, the only place meth is even mentioned in the study is a paragraph on how teen-aged inmates at KCCC reported using alcohol, marijuana, and methamphetamine, prescribed drugs like oxycontin and vicodin, and cocaine.

Two, the report blows off girls, determining it's not economically feasible to maintain a residential program for them on Kauai. It's not that girls aren't using the stuff. The report actually shows girls have higher rates of alcohol and prescription drug use than boys, and quotes a study that found, “For treatment needs by gender, a slightly higher percentage of female adolescents (8.3%) met the criteria for abuse or dependence for any substance use.”

But Kauai girls wont get rehab. Instead, they'll be offered Multisystemic Therapy, which “works with the youth and parents on specific goals that will enable the youth to continue living at home, going to school or to work and avoiding arrest or re-arrest.” 

Unfortunately, home is often where the problem lies, especially for girls who are being sexually abused, which is frequently at the root of substance abuse.

Three, it's proposing to accommodate just six-to-eight youth for a prolonged period:

Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least a year in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their substance abuse and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.

However, in another section, the report states: 

Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their substance abuse .

Either way, very few Kauai kids will actually get into rehab. The study reports that seven Kauai adolescents were placed in the Bobby Benson Center on Oahu between July 2012 and January 2013, a figure that no doubt would have been higher for an on-island center. Indeed, “about 592 Kauai adolescents were estimated to require treatment for substance abuse,” the report notes.

So a facility housing six-to-eight kids is a mere drop in the bucket, serving about 1 percent of the youth who need treatment. Of course, not all of those kids require intensive residential treatment. But they're not all getting outpatient treatment, either. As the report demurs:

There has been an historical gap between the need for services and access to services.

We're falling down in the area of prevention, too. Funding for prevention programs was cut 57 percent this year, and the report notes that:

“Kauai services do not appear to be integrated in screening and services of adolescents. The agencies appear to provide their services in silos, with little attempts to integrate their services through either regular meetings, consolidated screening tools, and transitional services to higher level services.”

Most of the public attention has focused on the location of such a facility, with a proposed site in the Isenberg tract getting the typical NIMBY opposition from people who don't realize these kids already are in their backyards.

It's clear Kauai kids need residential rehab on-island. But while the study shows some models for making that happen, it doesn't answer the question that must always be asked on this island: can the County of Kauai actually do it?

I mean, just look at the history of this facility to date, based on information that Koki provided.

In 2003, Bryan Baptiste said let's do it at the old Hanapepe dog pound. In 2004, he and the Council asked the state for $1.6 million to build it. The state kicked down $560,000, private donations of $50,000 were given to the County and a scholarship program for those unable to pay for the treatment was started with a pledge of $100,000 per year.

The county spent $56,743 on preliminary design and some construction at Hanapepe before the project was scuttled due to concerns about runoff onto the historic salt ponds. The county had to return the rest of the money to the State.

The scholarship program was never established. It was a pledge only, and since the center wasn’t built, the donor did not follow through.

And the private donations totaling $50,000? Who manages those funds?

We still have that donation, and I manage that account.” Koki said. “I recently got in touch with the donor and his wife while they were on vacation here, and gave them an update.”

In other words, it started off gangbusters, went through a few expensive missteps, languished for nearly a decade and has now been resurrected after a $50,000 study. And though none of the original problems concerning  location, funding and operation have been resolved, it's all systems go.

Sound familiar? 

Meanwhile, Gov. Neil Abercrombie just announced a new working group devoted to analyzing the state’s juvenile justice system, in large part because the state is balking at the $190,000 per year cost of incarcerating a kid. As the press release notes:

A significant number are in custody due to the lack of accessible treatment services and programs, especially on the neighbor islands.

Clearly, Kauai needs to get with it and help our kids. But is a county facility that will cost over $1 million per year to operate, and serve just six to eight boys, the best we can do? It seems an awful lot of kids will be left out in the cold.


Anonymous said...

The drug treatment facility will only serve males.

The jail will not allow women to participate in the LTS program.

Its 2013 people.

Anonymous said...

Bernard has been absent in driving this forward. He could have had this done a few years ago but has been a spineless leader. Get it done and do what's right. Even if that means losing the votes of the community where the facility is sited.

Anonymous said...

It sure is funny that the counties are allowed to poke along at their own pace,while the state sentences the youth and balks at the cost. they then only partialy fund the project once it's approved. The counties are expected to due the rest.

I don't think I'll be putting much stock in that getting done anytime soon. As usual it will take studies, EIS, haggling, and the rest of the BS. It's ten years out, easily.

It's no wonder youth are into drugs, the prospects for the future, the way things are going now, does not look all that bright sad to say.

The county and strate are pretty much useless unless your family and needs a job, or you really desire more taxes.

Anonymous said...

How about a drug re-hab facility on the northshore? Kilauea Town, Hanalei or even to replace the illegal TVRs.
The beaches and community would be a real good fit for the afflicted drug users and assist these young victims on their road to health.
I think State law already allows a 10 person drug re-hab that surpasses Zoning codes. Maybe the illegal TVRs can just turn themselves into a hi-end drug rehab center...wealthy people would pay 30K to 90K per month for treatment (like in Malibu)...There are many drug counselors available.....problem solved, no illegal TVRs and drug rehab all in one shot.

Anonymous said...

Thatʻs a solid analysis, Joan.
You speak from a wise perspective especially concerning the gender discrimination and the drugs of choice.

I do not believe any rehab will ʻfixʻ this problem.

It starts higher up. Many legislators are alcoholic and they are also smoking ice. Therefore, there is little momentum to tackle the issue: which is cutting off the sources coming in on small planes, boats, cargo, etc. (Hanalei for one)

I still shudder to think what Kauai would be inundated with if the Superferry had been allowed.

What we need:

1) Mandatory drug AND alcohol testing for all government officials.

2) Extreme measures to stop importation.

3) No more psychotropic drug prescription/distribution for recovering addicts/alcoholics.

4) An attitude of total abstinence being the only remedy.

The last one I mention because there is a racket going on with some rehabs (off island) and psychologists (even here on Kauai).

It goes like this: if you want financial assistance during the initial year of recovery, you must take the prescribed ʻbi-polarʻ meds or your check will be terminated because you do not comply with ʻtreatmentʻ.

When there is no long term recovery, chances are the addict/alcoholic has been given the 30 second diagnosis by an intake worker (former addict) that you are bi-polar. Once these meds are initiated, hell begins.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

Once again, as with many issues of statewide concern, our politicians fiddle while Hawaii burns. No matter, throwaway druggies and westside communities fucked by the dust and who knows what, the least connected get screwed.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the county use the owner of passages Malibu as a drug rehab consultant, he lives on Kauai. Oh yeah but braddah can make up something like no need girl wing and only going cost us 100k for him talk story. Cheee huuu everybody getting Benjamin's!!!!

Anonymous said...

Donʻt need any more ʻconsultantsʻ. Unless you want to hire me. Iʻll consult. Iʻm consulting right now.

It is a dirty word. Definition of someone that puts on expensive clothing to hide the physical flaws, takes a hit up the nose before walking into the room to hide the mental flaws, has a whole bunch of PPPs on the projector to take up time to hide the competence flaws and bores the fʻng crap out of you so bad you cave in and give him the money to shut him up or usually because a stupid little government official believes what they are hearing. chump chump chumps.

Anonymous said...

There was an anti-drug task force that KPAA cobbled together in 2002 that spent thousands of public money and hundreds of hours putting together a "master plan" that was never followed. In 2003 Republican mayor Baptiste hired Roy Nishida, a crony with absolutely no experience in substance abuse issues or psych, to be the "drug czar." A local nonprofit, in collaboration with a long-standing Mauai treatment program, presented a plan for two separate six-bed residential treatment facilities in leased space that had already been used for youth programs...but Nishida said no, they were going to do it in the old dog pound. The nonprofits were invited to tour the site with the carrot of a management contract. Both EDs took the tour, and flatly said no, this was not an appropriate site for it. The county went ahead anyway, only to be forced to abandon the project over public outcry. Then another, Native Hawaiian based, local nonprofit developed a treatment model/business plan for a 12-bed facility based on a balance of (real) ag and tech skills training along with psych treatment in a rural setting, got a $400K grant-in-aid from the lege that would have covered startup and the first two years of operation with no charges to clients, and was ready to start up when all of a sudden Republican governor Lingle, without explanation, refused to release the funds.

This entire black comedy has been politically motivated from the start, and fueled by a small handful of entrenched individuals with a vested interest.

It will only happen when the right palms have been greased, and when the public has been misled enough to put up with a second or third-class program.

Sorry...but this has been going on for over a decade and it's the same old song...sort of like addiction itself.

Anonymous said...

to 358pm-do you think the only illegal TVR's are on the N Shore? they are located all over the whole island-no permits, no taxes being paid, etc-Joan just seems to target the N Shore for whatever reason-
there is lots of open space on the Westside that would be perfect for a treatment center-or locate it in Lihue somewhere close to all the Dr's and the hospital just in case they are needed-the old "not in my backyard" is a lame excuse-
about time more people got on board with this-are we going to wait until the whole island is addicted to one thing or the other?we have too many lost souls on the island as it it-

Anonymous said...

Joan targets the noth shore because caren diamond did the actual work of those abuse chronicles. And she lives on the north shore.

Joan Conrow said...

As I've previously stated, the Abuse Chronicles are a collaborative effort by three of us.

We started in Wainiha-Haena because it's an area that's near and dear to our hearts and was never supposed to become a resort. Additionally, Caren had lots of great photos; it has a higher percentage of TVRs than other areas outside the VDA, and their impacts on the natural environment (landscaping the beach, overcapacity cesspools, lost access) are significant.

Anonymous said...

so you say that you started on the N Shore-but where are your other postings about problem TVR's in other areas? it's been a couple of years now so isn't it time to focus your efforts on another area-or are you just going to keep on trashing those on the N Shore because that's where you all live? another perfect example of "not in my neighborhood" treating the visitors the same as the addicted who need our help-

Joan Conrow said...

Why? You worried I'm gonna bust one of your illegal schemes? Or did I already?

Since it's my blog, I'll focus where ever I want, for as long as I want.

Oh, and btw, I don't live on the North Shore.

Anonymous said...

Right on Joan...

That's why we have these problems. A bunch of uninformed people, coupled with half truths, and emotions. Only a very few of us, sadly enough, take the time to seek out the truth.

Economics are the driving factor. Period. Jus' follow the money.

Like I say, no wonder the youth take to drug use. The "adults" can't get their dam shit together.

Anonymous said...

The east side bike path, the westside GMO/pesticide, the south side Koloa Camp, Lihue the drug rehab facility, I've read about issues from all parts of this island on this blog.

Anonymous said...

As a new resident of Kauai, camping onthe bbeaches, it's clear that teen and adult drug use and dependency are continuing, often hand in hand, from one end of the road to the others .