Drug Testing News BLOG

Hawaii evokes images of an idyllic paradise where you can go to get away from life’s troubles and clear your mind of negative thoughts while you bask in the sun. (In fact, even writing the previous sentence makes me want to book a flight there now.) But Hawaii isn’t free from troubles. While many of us go there to get away, the state is home to over a million people and they also have the same troubles there that we face here, one of them is drug abuse.

Teenagers are teenagers no matter where they grow up and they will be tempted to experiment with drugs, even if they’re living in what many of us consider to be the epitome of tropical paradise.

I don’t mean to block out the sunshine and spoil the dreamy visions in your head but here are some cold, hard facts. (I’ve rounded percentages to the nearest whole number.)

According to studies done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 13,000 adolescents (just over 13%) in Hawaii use illicit drugs, with 10,000 (about 10%) using marijuana and 6,000 (6%) using some other illicit drug.

About 14% of adolescent males and 19% of adolescent females drink alcohol, with 10% of males and 12% of females engaging in binge drinking.

Surprisingly, many more adolescent females than males are dependent on alcohol (4.6% versus 1.6%) and are also dependent on or abuse illicit drugs (7.7% versus 4.4%).

Like the rest of the U.S., marijuana is the main illicit drug used by Hawaiian adolescents, but prescription pain relievers are also abused there, with 2,000 males and 3,000 females using pain relievers non-medically in the 12 months prior to being interviewed for studies.

Data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), an annual 1-day census of clients in treatment, found that adolescent males accounted for 55% (3,673) of the 6,734 adolescent substance abuse admissions in Hawaii on the day the study was performed.

Of the total male admissions, 22% were drugs only, 67% were alcohol and drugs, and 10% were alcohol only.

Of the adolescent female admissions, 17 % were drugs only, 68.9 % were alcohol and drugs, and 12.5 % were alcohol only.

Among adolescent admissions, marijuana and alcohol were the most prevalent substances abused.

Of the total male admissions, 77% (2,827) reported alcohol use and 87% (3,178) reported marijuana use.

Of the total female admissions, 81% (2,493) reported alcohol use and 81% (2,465) reported marijuana use.

Even more alarming, 8% of male admissions (308) and 14% (436) of female admissions reported methamphetamine use. Similarly, 5% of males (168) and 6% (169) of females reported cocaine use.

In addition to the N-SSATS info, data was also derived from the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), which provides information on annual treatment admissions.

Okay, those are enough eye-popping numbers to let you know that, paradise or not, Hawaii is also facing a drug abuse epidemic like the rest of the country.