Drug and Alcohol Addiction in the US Pacific Islands
The US Pacific Islands include American Samoa, Saipan, the Northern Mariana Islands, and a number of other islands. While the Pacific Islands are known for their rich cultural heritage and serene, tropical landscapes, many may be surprised the islands are experiencing increasing drug and alcohol-related problems. Drugs like prescription opioids, heroin, and cocaine make their way into these islands, impacting everyone from young people on school campuses to senior citizens in nursing homes.
Recent news reports make mention of the growing connection between crime and alcohol abuse. Increasing rates of high school students experimenting with dangerous substances punctuate newspaper headings. Addiction, as is the case in the rest of the US, rears its ugly head in the beautiful US Pacific Islands. More and more drug busts have made news headlines in Samoa and Saipan, concerning government officials.
American Samoa’s Alcohol Problem
In American Samoa, 72% of murders, manslaughters, and assaults are committed by assailants under the influence of alcohol. DUI rates have increased 139% in recent years. Alcohol impairs the nervous system and can bring about aggression and violence in some individuals, and violent acts are strongly linked to alcoholism. From 2011 to 2013, 70% of domestic violence and sexual assault cases in American Samoa involved alcohol abuse.
The Northern Mariana Islands Drug and Alcohol Crisis
The Northern Mariana Islands suffer from high rates of drug and alcohol abuse. In 2015, 21% of high school males and 16% of high school females drank alcohol, with many of those students drinking at least 1 drink a day. 59% of male Northern Mariana Island high schoolers and 49% of female Northern Mariana Island high schoolers smoked marijuana. Cocaine use was lower for both male and female students, with rates of less than 5%.
How Drug and Alcohol Abuse Impacts the Body and Mind
Alcohol and substance abuse are debilitating conditions with shirt-term and long-term side effects. Depending on the substance abused, individuals can experience:
- Auditory disturbances
- Substance tolerance
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Breathing problems
- Dental problems
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Financial and relationship problems
- Emotional aggression
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What to Consider When Seeking Treatment
Deciding to enter rehab for substance abuse is a noble step to help get you your life back. After making the decision you may have questions about rehab options like:
- How much does rehab cost?
- What happens to my job?
- Do I bring anything to the facility?
- Do I have to go to a facility?
- How long will I stay there?
Such questions are common. However, answers are available. It may be helpful to speak with a treatment professional so that you have a better idea.