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Measure Proposing Drug Treatment Funding to Help Addicted Passes Committee

February 5, 2018, 2:30 PM HST
* Updated February 5, 12:13 PM
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Sen. Will Espero. Senate photo.

The Hawai‘i State Senate Majority announces that those people addicted to drugs would get a boost in their fight to combat their illness under Senate Bill 2010, which was advanced by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health (CPH) on Thursday, Feb.1, 2018.

SB2010 would appropriate $1 million to healthcare providers, vendors and contractors to treat dependents of prescription drugs, opioids, methamphetamine, heroin, and other habit-forming substances. SB2010 contends that drug treatment is a cost-effective way to reduce drug abuse when compared to the costs of law enforcement, interdiction, and source control, due to lower costs per offender and lower recidivism rates.

“It complements everything that we’re doing now to give addicts another chance at life,” said Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19 – Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of Ewa Villages), who introduced the bill and is a member of CPH.

The majority of the testimony was in support of SB2010. “Drug abuse is not a criminal issue, but rather a disease of the mind,” according to testimony submitted by Muhammad Talha Quadri, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa student studying social work. “I believe this bill is a step in the right direction, because it focuses on treating the problem rather than trying to prevent it through strict punishments.

The evidence is all around us: prevention through scare tactics does not work, but treatment does.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths in Hawai‘i have increased by 83% from 2006 to 2014, a growth rate more than double the national average, and a majority of those deaths are a result of prescription opioids and heroin.
SB2010 now goes before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for consideration.

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