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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

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Dad shares pain of 'ice' addiction

Roosevelt students take part in a national meth awareness day

By Rosemarie Bernardo

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Ewa Beach resident Anthony Marrero had hoped his adult daughter would have joined the family for dinner on Thanksgiving.

But she never showed.

To Marrero it was another sign of his daughter's destructive relationship with crystal methamphetamine, or "ice."

Marrero said he and his family have tried everything to help her overcome her addiction to ice, but nothing has worked.

"I never thought it could happen to me or my family," the Army command sergeant major said.

About 500 students sat in silence during an assembly in Roosevelt High School's auditorium yesterday while Marrero shared his story of how ice has devastated his family. He warned teens of the drug's dangerous effects as part of National Methamphetamine Awareness Day.

Wristbands and T-shirts emblazoned with the Hawaii Meth Project's message, "Not Even Once," were passed out to students by Roosevelt High's peer educators to remind them that trying it once is enough to get them hooked.

"I would never try it. It definitely ruins lives permanently," said Ruth Taketa, a senior and peer educator at Roosevelt High. "It ruins not only the user's life, but it ruins the family and the community and just everybody who's around that person."

During the assembly, Cindy Adams, executive director of the Hawaii Meth Project, also provided facts about the drug. Representatives of the project visit three to five schools weekly throughout the year to educate middle and high school students about ice.

Vivid photos of meth users' facial scratches and rotting teeth that flashed on a large screen in the auditorium caught the attention of senior William "Willy" Kaina. An athlete involved in football and canoe paddling, Kaina said he would never try it. "I don't want to look like that, that's why," he said.

During the assembly, Adams shared a story about Josh, an alias for one of the teens featured in a radio advertisement sponsored by the Hawaii Meth Project. When he taped the announcement in the beginning of the year, Josh was in treatment at the Bobby Benson Center. Since then he has bounced from one treatment center to another, relapsing three times. "It's that hard to get it out of your system and out of your mind," Adams said.

Some of the chemicals used to make meth are found in Drano, batteries and nail polish remover. It causes permanent damage, Adams said.

The cost of meth abuse in the state, including treatment, incarceration and foster care, is estimated at $500 million annually, she said.

For Marrero the struggle to help his daughter continues.

Battling a six-year addiction, his 22-year-old daughter was kicked out of the Hawaii National Guard and has been involved in a string of crimes that led her to become listed as one of Hawaii's Most Wanted at one point. She spent 72 days in jail and underwent treatment, but it was not enough to keep her off ice.

When asked by a student what people can do to help family members addicted to ice seek help, Marrero told her that addicts have to accept help from others. "From my experiences, they have to want the help. If they don't want the help, you're wasting your time. It's unfortunate but it's true," he said.

After the assembly, Marrero said he and his family continue to hope his daughter will one day want to kick the habit. "We just keep hoping and praying," he said.





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