The War On Ice: "We've Had Success"

Lieutenant Governor James "Duke" Aiona
Lieutenant Governor James "Duke" Aiona
Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson
Crystal methamphetamine; known in Hawaii as "ice"
Crystal methamphetamine; known in Hawaii as "ice"

(KHNL) It's a drug that has affected many people in Hawaii. In 2003, the lieutenant governor organized a drug summit to tackle the ice epidemic.

Three years later,what kind of progress has the state made in the war on ice?

You'll find it in every community in Hawaii. The Aloha State is known for having the worst ice problem in the country.

But Lieutenant Governor James "Duke" Aiona says:

"I say as far as success in my terms, we've had success."

He feels the state is winning some of its battles on the war against crystal meth.

"We've put together more workforce development programs, more afterschool activity programs and what we call life skills programs in middle schools."

He says police have made more arrests in connection with meth. And lawmakers have also increased federal funding available for prevention programs. The state has spent about 5 million more on educating Hawaii's youth.

Andy Anderson agrees about the progress. He's been with the Hina Mauka Recovery Center for a decade and has seen the changes firsthand.

Increased funding means more people are being treated. 1,000 more adults and about 500 more teens over the past few years. But he says a lot of work still needs to be done.

"There needs to be more of a balance between treatment, prevention, law enforcement and communities."

He says there's a long list of things Hawaii needs to curb drug use. More transitional housing, job skills training and gender-specific treatment.

"Because all the outcome and data that we're familiar with show that more gender-based treatment opportunities there are for women, the higher the outcomes" says Anderson.

Lieutenant Governor Aiona says he now has a new target: curbing underage drinking. He says his goals aren't changing, he just believes alcohol is the gateway drug for ice and other drugs.

"We have essentially accomplished what we wanted to do, which was cut the supply and cut the demand and we're doing it at this point in time.

Crystal meth was first introduced to the islands from Asia back in the mid-1980s. But now, most of the ice in Hawaii is produced in Mexico and California.