Hawaii Meth Project targets teens as meth use remains high - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii Meth Project targets teens as meth use remains high

David Earles David Earles
Kayla Yamada Kayla Yamada
McKayla Wandell McKayla Wandell
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

The Hawaii Meth Project's ads against methamphetamine use first hit television screens a few years ago, scaring viewers with their frank depictions of what happens to people on meth. But those ads aren't on TV now.

"Now we've rolled into more of a digital campaign, where we're focused heavily on the kids," said David Earles, executive director of the Hawaii Meth Project. "We're making sure to target the youth where they're at, which is sitting on the computer most of the time."

So the messages, perhaps more graphic than before, are aimed at youths on sites like Facebook and Pandora. 

Meth use in Hawaii remains as high as ever. The state Health Department said of adults 18 to 49 years old who enter drug treatment, most are treated for meth. Diagnostic Laboratory Services said nearly one percent of its workplace drug tests come back positive for meth, up from a year ago.

"We're number one in the nation for the most users amongst our workforce. That's a very scary statistic, 410 percent of the national average," said Earles.

So the Hawaii Meth Project is aiming its message squarely at teenagers. "Instead of working with meth addicts, we work with teens to try to prevent meth use before they even try it," said Kayla Yamada, a senior at Waiakea High School in Hilo.

Yamada is a member of the Meth Project's Teen Advisory Council, made up of youths from around the state. Another member's father was a meth addict, who kicked the drug five years ago.

"I kinda moved around in a lot of different, really dingy, dirty homes for a while. And he wasn't always around. And when he was around and had money, he didn't spend it on food for us or anything," said McKayla Wandell, a junior at Baldwin High School.

The Meth Project is hoping that these teens can pass on the word. "And then that way, as they get through it, then we'll decrease the usage here in Hawaii amongst those workers," said Earles. 

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