Young Drugs: Is Your Child Using?

Stanford Kepa
Stanford Kepa
Austin Keala
Austin Keala
Tipasa Sagote
Tipasa Sagote
Brandon Ayers
Brandon Ayers
Chopper 8 view of Waiawa Correctional Facility
Chopper 8 view of Waiawa Correctional Facility

(KHNL) --Would you really know if your child was using drugs? Men who started using at a very young age reveal how they kept it hidden from their parents. KHNL News 8's Minna Sugimoto goes inside the Waiawa Correctional Facility to bring us this special report.

"Head count, coming down."

"Central five."

It's the afternoon head count, at Waiawa Correctional Facility. Inmates from different walks of life, sharing a common thread.

"Came from a good home. Both parents didn't drink, didn't use drugs," Austin Keala, inmate, said.

"I was eight years old, and I started smoking marijuana," Brandon Ayers, inmate, said.

"My first experience was alcohol at the age of seven," Stanford Kepa, inmate, said.

"I started using cocaine when I was 14," Ayers said.

"The head count's clear. Only the bathroom is open," the prison guard announced.

Think your child could never wind up here?

"Not to put anybody down, but that's kind of naive," Ayers said.

Think again.

"No matter where you live in the island, where you live in this world, drugs is all over. No matter is you live in a rich place or a medium place or a lower place," Tipasa Sagote, inmate, said.

Meet four men who used every trick in the book to hide their drug use from their parents.

"Visine, things like that. Make like I had allergies or I caught a cold," Keala said.

Teaching us what they know, so perhaps we can help our kids avoid this path.

"When you go in your children's room, you see Bob Marley flag, Bob Marley shirt, all Bob Marley's collection of CDs, match books that's half, that means they're smoking pot," Sagote said.

"Don't be cocky and think that, you know, oh, my child wouldn't go there," Kepa said.

Stanford Kepa grew up in Waimanalo, with a deep love for the ocean.

"Diving, surfing," he said.

When he started smoking marijuana, the ocean provided his cover.

"I would just tell them that I was swimming all day, that my eyes is red," Kepa said.

In a pinch, L.A. native Brandon Ayers was quick on his feet.

"My face would get flushed also, when I smoked. So they, 'Oh, what's wrong?' 'Oh, I just came, I just got done running,'" Ayers said.

He was running around, trying to mask that distinct smell.

"Put on extra deodorant. Put on some cologne. Maybe stay out later so the breeze can get in. You know what I mean? You can get it off of you. Ride in the back of a truck," Ayers said.

Soon, the boys moved on to harder drugs, like cocaine and crystal meth.

"When people do ice, their faces tend to get oily a lot. They're very emotional. You could cook them their best meal, and they won't eat it," Keala said.

"Talking back to the parents and sometimes swear at the parents," Sagote said.

"Spend a lot of time in your room?" this reporter asked.

"Oh, a lot of time in my room," Ayers said.

Wait a minute. Sounds like normal teenage stuff, doesn't it? That's what the grown-ups thought.

"My parents did a good job raising me and stuff like that. But there's a lot of things parents miss," Keala said.

Like this. To you and me, a dollar bill. For a coke addict, a tool for snorting.

"He could've asked me, 'Oh, how come I'm always finding dollar bills that are, they seem like they just roll up? You know, I try to straighten them out. But they still roll right back up, not as tight but.' But he never asked any questions like that," Ayers said.

Now, prison is their home.

"I made my choices, and now I'm sleeping in the bed," Kepa said.

Men from different walks of life, on the same path at Waiawa.

"It's okay to be nosy. But ask them straight questions. If you're smoking, let me know. We can work things out," Sagote said.

"If parents don't get more active in communicating with their children and being able to recognize signs, that's the only way they're going to be able to come, you know, be able to help them out," Ayers said.

So how do children get their hands on alcohol and drugs to begin with? The inmates say it's much easier than you'd think. The candid interviews continue in Part 2 of Minna's special report.