The “Dark” Side of Paradise

Hawaii is viewed as “paradise” with its breathtaking beaches, sunsets, & views, famous nature landmarks, beautiful sunny days and blue skies all year long, and filled with the aloha spirit. As someone who is born and raised on Oahu, let me tell you, there is a dark side and Hawaii is NOT just a 24/7 vacation. Hawaii has the most methamphetamine addicts. Only, it is not methamphetamine – it’s called “ice”. For those of you who never heard of ice, it is a different chemical make up from methamphetamine. It is stronger, more addicting, and deadlier than methamphetamine.

Ice is EVERYWHERE in Hawaii, especially Oahu. I’ve lived in town my whole life, which is slang for the suburbs, and majority of my neighbors cook and use ice. It smells terrible. The smell of bleach, acetone, nail polish remover, and pesticides waft into my room, sending me into a coughing fit. Ice addicts also have a distinct smell – they smell like sweat and metal.

I lost MANY friends to ice. It’s tragic. Ice eats you from the inside out. I witnessed the effects of ice on people. Since it is more powerful than methamphetamine, the side effects take hold of the addicts almost immediately from the time they use it. The high also lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Ice comes in the form of rocks, which can either be smoked or injected. Most of the ice addicts choose to smoke it. When someone starts using ice, about three months in, they are nothing but skin and bones, pale, with sunken eyes. After another two months, they have sore all over their faces. Give or take a month and they start losing their teeth and hair. Many ice addicts live out of their car at the beach. I surf, so I frequent the beaches and am friendly with some of them. Sometimes, they’ll surf and they’re amazing at it. They could’ve gone pro, but they fell into the grips of ice, ruining any chances of it. Ice addicts are dangerous because they are unpredictable. They’re happy and friendly one minute, then violent the next minute. Even though they weigh less than 100lbs, they’re still a threat because the adrenaline from the ice gives them herculean power.

One of my good girlfriends from high school is an ice addict. I remember her calling me the first time she did it. She told me how she felt light, happy, and energetic and we should meet up, so that I could try it. I said “no thank you” and hung up. About two years ago, she was blowing up my phone while I was at work. I called her back during my lunch break and she told me some sob story about spending the night in jail because her parents called the cops on her for taking her car out, which they reported stolen. She needed a place to shower and crash in town because she had court the next day, but had no money to catch the bus, and asked if I could pick her up and stay at my place. I asked her if she was clean and she told me she was, so I agreed. As SOON as she got in the car, I could tell she was high. She lied to me. I confronted her about it, but she was too high to be coherent. Once we got to my place, she proceeded to take out her bag of ice and pipe to show me. I was LIVID, but I decided to let it go and help her, after all she was a good friend of mine and needed help. BIG MISTAKE. We were about an hour away from my house, from where I picked her up, and I could tell she was crashing. Once we got to my place, I made her some mac and cheese, let her take a shower, and I gave her a change of clothes. She, then, asked if she could borrow some money and if I could drop her off at a pawn shop. I did not want her staying overnight at my place, so I agreed. I gave her a 20 and dropped her off at the pawn shop. The next day, I noticed my grandmother’s one-of-a-kind custom made 18kt gold ring was gone. It was one of my favorites. It had a simple rose made out of pink deep sea coral and I wore it EVERYDAY. The only time I took it off was when I showered. I thought I was being REALLY careful about leaving any valuables out in front of her and after she came out of the shower, she knocked out in my room, so I thought it was safe to take a shower. IT WAS NOT. I took precaution and locked the door to the bathroom and there is also another door that slides and separates the toilet and bathtub from the bathroom sink, which I also used and locked. However, out of habit, I left the ring on top the counter of the bathroom sink and the bathroom door lock is flimsy and easy to unlock. I KNOW she snuck in and stole the ring and I did not hear her because I had closed the other door and was in the bathtub, showering.

I looked EVERYWHERE for it. When I realized she stole it, I felt many emotions. I felt sick. I felt stupid. I felt betrayed. I felt like crying. I felt angry. I felt like breaking something. I felt powerless. I felt devastated. I felt guilty. I I realized my “friend” pawned the ring for ice. I KNOW she must’ve gotten at least $2,500 for the ring. How could she do this to me? I HELPED her. I was shaking from anger, but I decided not to contact her about it, because it would only fall upon deaf ears. She was FULL BLOWN addict. Nothing I said or did would bring my grandmother’s ring back. In addition, I tried to rationalize with myself and told myself she probably did not know how important, valuable, and expensive the ring was and that because she is a drug addict, stealing comes easy to her. Addicts will steal your wallet, and then, help you look for it, sincerely thinking it’s lost.

It took me about two weeks to realize she had stolen my ring. In those two weeks, I looked for it ALL OVER my house. I looked in ever corner, under/in between/the back, and crack of EVERY SINGLE piece of furniture in my house. I also went through ALL my, my sister’s, and my mother’s handbags, pouches, shoe boxes, closet, jewelry boxes, drawers, and pockets of each clothing item. In short, there was not a single place left untouched and unlooked. I literally turned my house upside down looking for the ring. I even asked my mother if she had mailed the ring back to my grandfather, who lived in Japan, for safekeeping. I was vexed. I could not remember what pawn shop I dropped her off at, so I could not go back there to check if the ring was still there nor file a police report that it was stolen and have them go to the pawn shop and retrieve it for me.

The reason my “friend” had to go to court was because she was giving up her rights as a mother to her son and giving her parents and older sister legal guardianship of him. She told me about it real casually. As if, she did not care about him at all. This was a BIG RED FLAG that she had fallen and hit lower than rock bottom. She cared more about getting high than being a parent. On the way to the pawn shop, she called her mother and told her that before or after court, she needed to go to a different pawn shop because they had contacted her that day, letting her know that some of the stuff she pawned, sold, and needed a ride there to pick up the check. At first, her mother refused and told her about how she should be more concerned about losing her son. Then, right on cue, my “friend” started giving her a similar sob story as the one she gave to me. Her mother bought it and grudgingly agreed to take her to the pawn shop.

Hawaii has an ice epidemic. Yet, it goes ignored and unnoticed. We want to keep up the image that Hawaii is a vacation destination, especially since tourism is the number one industry and is the main staple of the state’s economy. I have made attempts to bring it to attention to the governors, senators, and mayors of Hawaii. Only ONE governor tried to take action. We NEED HELP.

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