Triple threat helps loosen meth's icy grip on addicts
THERE is a new approach for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms from "ice" addiction. It has been administered here in Hawaii for the past year. The treatment should be made available to more people in Hawaii.
As a legislator who also works in the nursing profession, I directed my efforts to better understand the ice epidemic that permeates every level of our society, depriving the community of economic productivity and breaking family ties. Crystal meth use contributes to the proliferation of criminality and homelessness in our communities.
A revolutionary method for treating crystal methamphetamine addiction is called the Prometa protocol, comprised of three Food and Drug Administration-approved medications prescribed off- label, nutritional supplements and psychosocial counseling. The medications are combined in a new dosing regimen that reduces the craving and anxiety associated with withdrawal.
This combined use of the Prometa protocol is being studied elsewhere in clinical trials and pilot programs for safety, efficacy and long-term effects. House Bill 1792 directs the Legislature and the Department of Health to review the findings of the trials and pilots conducted elsewhere. It also sets a benchmark for acceptability for state implementation. The Department of Health is to negotiate the price, and the criminal justice system is to choose which offenders will be offered the protocol as a treatment option in association with the drug court.
SOME OF Prometa protocol trials in other states have been completed. The results are promising, with as high as 90-plus percent negative drug screens among participants at the six-month mark.
The intent of HB 1792 is to provide funding for habitual drug offenders and those convicted of drug-related crimes who have been unsuccessful in achieving sobriety through traditional psychosocial counseling alone.
At the recent House Health Committee hearings, a Kahi Mohala executive officer testified that they are now in talks to become the second licensed Prometa provider in Hawaii.
Much research has been done on addiction. The National Institute of Drug Abuse categorizes addiction -- whether it is gambling, smoking, alcohol or illicit drug use -- as a disease, just like diabetes or hypertension. About 10 percent of the population has a propensity to addiction.
RECENTLY, I was fortunate to be invited by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and by the National Foundation of Women Legislators to listen to their examples of treating meth addicts with medication.
The Prometa protocol appears to have three effects almost immediately. It resets the brain receptors that make the addict crave drugs. It restores the receptor (dopamine) cells that are drained or destroyed by chronic drug use and restores more reasoned and rational thinking. The medications involved are ones that I have personally administered as a nurse. It is the combination and the dosing regimen that are new.
According to the Treatment and Research Institute of Pennsylvania, 50 percent of drug abusers commit violent crimes; 50 percent commit domestic violence; 80 percent commit child abuse and neglect; 50-75 percent commit theft and property crimes; and 75-90 percent resort to drug dealing and manufacturing to support their addiction.
EIGHTY PERCENT of the federal and state prison population is incarcerated due to drug-related crimes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
HB 1792 has passed both the House Health and Judiciary committees, and is on its way to the Finance Committee this week.
It is imperative that we help these individuals who are overpowered by their addictions. By helping them, we are helping all of the families and communities in Hawaii.
Rida Cabanilla, a Democrat, represents House District 42 (Waipahu, Honouliuli, West Loch, Ewa).