OP ED: Have we lost control of the drugs invasion?
Gov. Lolo has publicly acknowledged ‘through his appeal to the churches for help with drug problems ’ (tn 6/5/20) the long standing existence or presence of illegal drugs in American Samoa. He has also acknowledged that his top heavy Drug and Alcohol task force and government ie; Dpt. Public Safety and Dpt. Homeland Security, has not been able to stem the tide of drugs entering and passing through our borders. Whether it be by air, mail, cargo, commercial ships, alia, surfboard etc.
Unmentioned are my concerns including the trafficking, distribution, high demand for users and targeting of children by the adults to share the drugs — sell and use.
Our Governor states he doesn't know what to do about this drug plague other than the following; turn to the churches and to turn the protection of our people to the local village chiefs and aumaga/police. I believe they are to act as the native reconnaissance scouts for the Commissioner. As an after thought to our failure to stop and report the tide of illegal drugs into our territory for so long, its like appointing the ‘foxes to watch the wolves’.
Now according to our Nuuuli Faipule, Committee Chairman Manumaua Wayne Wison, there is a suspicion of ice/meth being manufactured/cooked here on island. Unfortunately they have been very unsuccessful in having the Commissioner attend their hearings to address the drug problem and this concern.
Our people need to be informed and cautioned of how deadly and potent this drug situation really is. All this secrecy prompted by the Commissioner’s concern is keeping our people ignorant of how the drug is impacting on their quality of life. Yet according to our Commissioner, cultural leaders, the wide distribution of the media and the local faikala-line; Le Aute, Le Filifili and Logotala hill are the household conversations.
Social evidence is the wide spread domestic violence, child sexual abuse, burglaries, assaults, broken homes, families, marriages, self inflicted wounds, murder, attempts and successful suicides etc.
Vast amount of our people have no clue to the mental health probs and trauma exacerbated by meth users. They are living in that hell but don't know how to deal with it, how to come out of it or ask for help due to fears and lack of trust and faith in the government system.
The medical side of addiction has not been addressed. Here is an undocumented phenomenon. There is an interesting increase in cardiac problems surfacing in LBJ including high blood pressure, strokes, kidney failure and liver damage. Blood/urine screens or testing are showing the presence of illegal drugs in all ages and gender. (What to do with this dilemma?)
If our LBJ lab would release the numbers of patients with traces of ice/meth in their system, without the names to satisfy the HIPPA...there, is SOLID proof of the presence of illegal drugs. It is taking a silent toll on the lives of our people camouflaged by the medical problems.
I believe our drug addicted community has gone way beyond local counseling. We need to seriously consider a Detoxification program on island to prepare the client for formal treatment. As a person progresses from the medical Detoxification program they then enter into a Drug Rehabilitation program, which will support their transitioning.
My concern is we are a small island with a weak administration, the Detox Center will be a revolving door. The answer is with our leaders in the political arena. Follow the money and trail of the addicted, you find the gatekeeper.
Call upon the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and we save the lives and futures of our own children and grandchildren.