Drug program admissions drop


Although the number of admissions to alcohol and drug abuse programs increased statewide between 2011 and 2012, they dropped in Hawaii County, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Health.

It’s unknown whether the decrease from 1,068 admissions in 2011 to 981 admissions in 2012 is because of a decrease in substance abuse problems or a decrease in available treatment slots. Hawaii County residents accounted for 22 percent of all admissions in 2011, a number that dropped to 17.8 percent last year.

The Big Island Substance Abuse Council has been struggling to maintain services despite budget cuts brought on by a combination of federal and state belt-tightening and increased competition from other nonprofits. BISAC CEO Hannah Preston-Pita told Stephens Media Hawaii earlier this year that the nonprofit cut its budget from $6 million annually to $5 million, and adult programs were cut by 70 percent.

The organization shut down its Kealakekua, Waimea and Oahu offices July 1.

“The Waimea and Kona offices made up about 25 or 30 percent of our clientele,” Preston-Pita, a psychologist, said at the time. “And even that wasn’t really enough for the community. We needed more. … Now, we are forced to review our current programs and look at how we could be more efficient, and look at ways we can improve services.”

While the West Hawaii and Oahu offices have been shut down, BISAC intends to continue offering services through partnerships with various organizations, including the Kona Drug Court, the state’s probation program, Hope Services and Hui Malama Ola Na Oiwi.

Neither Preston-Pita, nor Hope Services CEO Brandee Menino returned telephone messages by press time Tuesday.

The Health Department’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division’s 10-year report on alcohol and drug treatment services in Hawaii from 2003 through 2012 is available at health.hawaii.gov/substance-abuse/prevention-treatment/treatment.

“The extensive report summarizes rates of treatment services in Hawaii and reflects substance abuse trends and areas of concern,” Nancy Haag, ADAD division chief, said in a statement. “Compiling and analyzing trend data enables the department to prioritize and direct its limited resources toward the areas of greatest need in our communities.”

The 10-year trend report focuses on alcohol and drug treatment services provided by agencies funded by ADAD, and the report contains information on the socio-demographic characteristics of adolescents (age 17 and younger) and adults who were admitted to treatment programs. In 2012, ADAD funded nine agencies that offered services to adolescents at 88 sites and 19 agencies that offered services to adults at 46 sites.

Among the trends:

Between 2003 and 2012, the number of state-funded sites serving adolescents increased by 137.8 percent (from 37 to 88 sites), and the number of sites serving adults increased by 21.1 percent (from 38 to 46 sites).

In 2012, admissions of adults ages 18 to 49 accounted for the largest share of services (51.6 percent), followed by admissions of adolescents (39.9 percent), then admissions of older adults age 50 and older (8.5 percent). The same trend had been observed for the 10-year time period for 2003 to 2012.

Across 10 years, marijuana was the primary substance used at the time of admissions for the majority of adolescents (52.8 to 63.1 percent), followed by alcohol (26.9 to 39.9 percent). For adults ages 18 to 49 years, methamphetamine, also known as “ice,” was the most frequently reported primary substance (42.4 to 53.2 percent), followed by alcohol (21.8 to 31.5 percent). Alcohol was the most frequently used primary substance for adults 50 years and older (52.2 to 64.1 percent). During the most recent eight years, methamphetamine was the second most frequently used primary substance (18.5 to 27.9 percent).