State gets $10M for anti-drug programs
The state will receive more than $10 million over the next five years to strengthen its substance abuse prevention efforts.
The federal grant will be administered by the state Department of Health and given to county agencies and nonprofit groups involved in community-based efforts to deter underage drinking and illegal drug use.
These efforts are "vital to directly address substance abuse-related issues and reduce the onset of conditions that place individuals at greater risk for substance use," said Michelle Hill, deputy director of DOH's Behavioral Health Administration.
"We expect that prevention is far more effective as a strategy to pursue than costly efforts to intervene and change ingrained behaviors," she said.
Hawai'i is one of 16 states to get the grant this year — 37 jurisdictions have received it so far.
According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the grants are intended to:
In addition to building on a statewide prevention plan adopted earlier in the year, the grant will be used to identify other needs, including gaps in data and services, and to develop culturally appropriate programs that will be assessed for effectiveness.
Among those being called in to help with prevention efforts are high school students, several of whom were present when the grant was announced at a state ceremony proclaiming this week to be Red Ribbon Week.
Red Ribbon Week, a national drug education program, commemorates the life of Drug Enforcement Agency agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, killed by drug traffickers in Mexico in 1985.
Mays Lee, a Kaimuki High senior involved in her school's Peer Education Program, carried a poster that showed her and her friends having drug-free fun by going to the beach or just hanging out.
She was happy to hear that there would be more attention focused on steering kids away from drug and alcohol use.
The problem is prevalent at her school, she said, and students often feel pressured to use drugs and drink.
She wants her fellow students to know that there are healthier ways to socialize with friends. "I'm there to help them," she said.