National nonprofit raises alarms about dearth of drug treatment in islands

Updated: Aug. 29, 2019 at 4:25 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The national leader of a nonprofit that specializes in treating drug addiction says to get a handle on the state’s homeless crisis, more drug treatment is needed.

David Hudson, national commander of the Salvation Army, said last year alone the Hawaii chapter provided drug treatment to 5,899 people. While that may sound like a lot, officials say it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the need.

“If a person isn’t suffering from mental illness on the streets when they start becoming homeless it’s not going to take long,” said Hudson, during a visit to the Islands on Thursday.

“The stresses of life on the street will certainly have mental health outcomes.”

The state’s director of health agrees with Hudson’s assessment.

He said Hawaii is in desperate need of about 230 short-term stabilization beds, places for people with substance abuse issues to detox.

Right now, the Salvation Army located on Nimitz Highway is one of the few places people can get help.

“Most people go to the thrift store, but they don’t know there is a 72-bed facility upstairs that’s actually helping men get treatment they need,” said Salvation Army Pathway of Hope Director Anna Stone.

In addition to getting clean, participants are taught work skills.

The non-profit is in the process of expanding its women’s program.

But much more needs to be done.

“I think what we’re seeing in the state in general is that there’s not enough treatment facilities for the youth for example,” Stone said. “There’s not enough treatment facilities on the neighbor islands.”

In order to get that ball rolling and make any kind of real impact, the national commander says collaboration needs to be better between government, the community and service providers.

“It’s really vital for people to work together, for entities to work together,” said Hudson.

All of the Salvation Army’s drug treatment programs are paid for with money raised through thrift stores and grants.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.