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Posted On: February 24, 2003          Updated On: March 15, 2003
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

Monday, February 24, 2003

Treatment key to battling drug abuse, expert says

Hawaii's programs are good but
underfunded, a noted author says

By Helen Altonn
haltonn@starbulletin.com

Hawaii politicians need to battle substance abuse with treatment based on science and research, says an internationally recognized authority in the field.

"Addicted people are sick people who need to get well, not bad people who need to be punished," Terence Gorski, consultant on substance abuse, mental health, violence and crime, said in a recent interview. "Anyone who says drug treatment doesn't work is highly misinformed."

Gorski was a key speaker and trainer at conferences sponsored by the Pacific Institute of Chemical Dependency at the Japanese Cultural Center last month.

About 160 people attended the meetings each day, and "they really liked what he had to say," said Ken Hansen, manager of the Queen's Medical Center's Ambulatory Behavioral Health Services and chairman of the institute's board. "He is controversial, but it's good to have some of that controversy."

Gorski, who has written several books on addiction, is president of CENAPS Corp., a training and consultation firm in Homewood, Ill., that develops teams in communities to manage alcohol, drug, violence and crime problems.

Gorski said Hawaii has "really excellent treatment programs" with high-quality providers, but they are underfunded and undersupported.

"Considering the seriousness of the drug abuse problem and effectiveness of proper and adequate treatment, the underfunding of treatment in the islands should be an embarrassment to your political leadership," he said.

Hawaii leads the nation in "ice" addiction, and most states are struggling with drug problems, Gorski said. He contends the problems are "a reflection of the failed drug war."

"After spending well over $100 billion over the past 20 years in the drug war, drugs are readily available, drug crimes are increasing and our prisons are overloaded."

Gorski said the solution to addiction involves biological, psychological and social treatment because it is "a brain disease that results from interaction of a mind-altering drug with a genetically susceptible brain."

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