Hawaii consistently nears the top of national ratings when it comes to drug offenses involving methamphetamine, as well as for meth-related treatment admissions – and tops the list for workplace use. And according to a survey by the Hawaii Meth Project, a statewide prevention program, one in seven Hawaii teenagers says that meth would be somewhat or very easy to acquire.
To address use among youths, the Hawaii Meth Project created the Teen Advisory Council – a collective of teens who work to spread the word about the dangers of the drug. Teens like Grace Nikaido, a 17-year-old senior at Farrington High School, provide input to the Hawaii Meth Project, outreach to their peers, and work with the group’s various projects and events.
Nikaido joined the council as a sophomore, soon after she first heard about meth during a peer education class. She was shocked to learn about the drug and its consequences.
“I thought that this was so terrible,” she says. “When you look at other drugs, they never seem as addictive as meth. When you hear everybody’s stories, it’s not like it’s just one person … That person will go totally off track, and it affects everybody. And it affects the community.”
In addition to working on the council, Nikaido created a National Meth Awareness Day rally event at Farrington. The event has been a success in the past, and she is gearing up for another one in November. At school, she also launched the Not Even Once club, which has more than 50 members who volunteer at Meth Project events and other anti-meth efforts at school.
“It was a way that (Hawaii Meth Project) could plug into the school a little bit closer,” Nikaido says of the club. It also gives Nikaido another way to outreach to her peers. “When you are gathering volunteers, you also are educating them at the same time. It’s a great way to do a little bit of both.”
The club recently held its first meeting of the school year, and it’s off to a busy start. In addition to weekly meetings and planning school assemblies, they’re preparing to help Hawaii Meth Project share its message at the Children and Youth Day at the state Capitol Oct. 7.
Nikaido says her goal in working with Hawaii Meth Project is to spread awareness and, ultimately, reduce meth use. “We would like everybody to know what meth is – that is the main thing,” she says. “If they know what meth is and what the (effects) are, then they will realize what choices they have to make.”
One of the issues that Nikaido stresses is that meth can affect everybody around you – not just the one doing it. “If they knew that first hit would really hurt their mom or their dad, I don’t think people would do it,” she says.
For more information on the Hawaii Meth Project and to get involved, visit hawaii.methproject.org.