Young Drugs: Where Do Kids Get Drugs?

Published: May. 25, 2006 at 5:53 PM HST|Updated: May. 25, 2006 at 11:39 PM HST
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Brandon Ayers
Brandon Ayers
Stanford Kepa
Stanford Kepa
Austin Keala
Austin Keala
Tipasa Sagote
Tipasa Sagote
KHNL News 8's Minna Sugimoto speaks with inmates at Waiawa Correctional Facility
KHNL News 8's Minna Sugimoto speaks with inmates at Waiawa Correctional Facility

by Minna Sugimoto

(KHNL) -- We were shocked by their candor. Tuesday, we heard from four men who became drug addicts at a very young age. Their message -- you might not know if your child is using drugs.

But as kids, how did they get their hands on drugs to begin with? KHNL News 8's Minna Sugimoto takes us inside the Waiawa Correctional Facility for Part 2 of her special report, Young Drugs.

They told us how they used drugs right under their parents' noses.

"My first joint in the sixth grade," Stanford Kepa, inmate, said.

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

"I hid it for a long time," Austin Keala, inmate, said.

"If my dad would actually search real good, he could have questioned, 'How come you have so many Visine bottles?'" Ayers said.

"Open my eyes underneath the water. Makes my eyes red. But that's not the only red. It's from smoking pot, too," Tipasa Sagote, inmate, said.

Four inmates revealed their secrets, so perhaps we could keep our kids from following in their footsteps.

"There's a lot of things that possibly I can offer to kids out there and keep them out of a place like this," Keala said.

But how, at such a young age, did they get their tiny hands on alcohol and drugs to begin with?

"There's always a way to get drugs. Always," Ayers said.

"My aunty had a party at home. So I kind of like watched them, how they having fun. So I went to the cooler. I grab one beer and snuck out," Sagote, who was 11 years old at the time, said.

"If parents drink, ice box has liquor and liquor cabinets have liquor. Check that. A lot of guys, I used to get it from my neighbor's parents," Keala said.

Of course, not everything in life is free. As young addicts move on to harder drugs, they can earn the money.

"You can go and mow yards. Make money on the side washing cars. Whatever little kids do, paper routes," Ayers said.

They could get it from their parents.

"It's easy to get money. You just lie," Sagote said.

Or simply steal it. Stanford Kepa was like any other child, until drugs took control.

"It got pretty bad. Pretty much I did anything and everything that I could. Steal from my family, friends," he said.

Sometimes, a paper route just isn't enough.

"I seen lot of people making money on the street. Then I wanted to be that person, make money on the street. So I became a drug dealer," Sagote said.

"Me and my brother came up with that when I was 11 and he was 13," Ayers said.

"So you're dealing at 11 and 13?" this reporter asked.

"Yeah, I was selling weed inside my elementary school," Ayers said.

Austin Keala was an active young man, involved in sports and clubs. From alcohol and marijuana to cocaine and crystal meth, he displayed the same enthusiasm for drugs.

"It's pretty easy, you know. It's all over," he said.

Keala urges parents to communicate with their children before it's too late.

"Be nosy, you know. Ask some questions, those questions of if they are using or who they're hanging around with and why," he said.

And don't dismiss possible signs.

"I would have beer caps laying around that I would collect for my own personal, like, okay, yeah, I drank this much this weekend. Just little things like that that I would hide in drawers or up on top of my closet," Ayers said.

That way, childhood dreams can be realized.

"A good fireman," Kepa said, when asked what he wanted to be. "Just helping people, yeah, rescuing lives. I though that was the greatest thing in the world."

"I could have been running the family construction company. I could have played basketball. Whichever one. You pick it. My options were unlimited. But I limited them by doing drugs," Ayers said.

"I wish that my parents and my family catch on. It's kind of late now. Now, I'm here," Sagote said.

Our thanks to the warden and staff at Waiawa for allowing us inside their facility. Minna will try to follow these inmates as they continue on their road to recovery.