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Guam's drug problem is very real

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We all know drug use is a continual issue in our society, but what you may not know is that substance abuse of both illegal and legal drugs is affecting thousands of families every year. You overhear the conversations or on the news...but is the drug problem in Guam really that bad?

New Beginnings Substance Abuse Program supervisor Don Sabang told KUAM News, "Is it still a problem in Guam? Definitely, yes. Are many lives affected? Yes. It's a problem that doesn't seem to go away." And Lighthouse Recovery Center director Valerie Reyes added, "Each year, Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center Drug Branch New Beginnings, along with our partners Salvation Army, Lighthouse, Oasis, Sanctuary, we serve approximately 1,300 people a year."

She added, "And the drug that we see the most would be alcohol, followed by meth."

Roughly 59% of people in treatment use alcohol, 30% use methamphetamine, 12% use marijuana and 5% use prescription drugs including Percocet, Oxycotton, and Titalin. Lighthouse Recovery Center clinical supervisor Leinani Naholowaa said, "So far as trends, one of them would be the increase of young adults who are using opiates or prescription medications. The thing about the prescription drugs, there's really no one collecting data or monitoring, so it's difficult but through hearsay or people that come through our doors, they do say it's on the rise."

Although substance abuse remains a continual problem here on island, there are treatment options available for those looking for help.

Reyes said, "We want the community to understand that treatment is important it works, it's effective, and I think that the more people that get treatment, the less strain it's going to take on certain public safety and you know because cops keep arresting the same people."

The care in Guam varies from inpatient to outpatient care, and Guam's three residential treatment centers - Oasis, Lighthouse Recovery Center, and Sanctuary - are some of the few in the region. Despite being pressed for resources, they continue to provide services free of charge.

"Treatment is very effective and recovery is possible for people who want it," encouraged Reyes.

Those interested in learning more about help for substance addiction can call New Beginnings at 475-5438, the Lighthouse Recovery Center at 477-7671, or the Oasis Empowerment Center at 646-4601.

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