Opioid Abuse

Train community to recognize overdoses (May 31, 2018)

In search of the noblest of goals, saving lives, Dr Kathleen Kozak’s column Health Beat: Hawaii Can Do More To Save Opioid Overdose Victims misses the forest for the trees.

While making the opioid overdose reversal medicine naloxone as widely available as possible is a no-brainer, there are numerous ways to do so. In fact, contrary to what the column suggests, Hawaii already passed one law (Senate Bill 2392, Act 68 of 2016, which Dr. Kozak only partially describes) and another currently sits on the governor’s desk, (Senate Bill 2247).

The overdose reversal medication Naloxone can be purchased over the counter in many states, but not Hawaii. VCU CNS/Flickr.com

What goes unmentioned about Act 72 is that it crucially also allows harm-reduction organizations like the CHOW Project to dispense naloxone in the community. As intended, this is already helping to reverse overdoses. Meanwhile, if as expected SB 2247 is signed by Gov. Ige, pharmacists will indeed be able to dispense naloxone to community members without a prescription. This is exactly the kind of workaround states must take until the Food and Drug Administration reclassifies naloxone as over-the-counter.

Ultimately, it is essential that we train the community to recognize an opioid overdose, especially in the age of the powerful fentanyl, so we are as prepared as possible when the time comes.

— Carl Bergquist, Executive Director, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii, Honolulu

Kilauea’s Keiki

What is little Loihi up too? (June 2, 2018)

I was reading the Civil Beat article “Hawaii has 5 Other Active Volcanoes In Addition To Kilauea,” and I wonder if there has been any observation as to what Loihi (seamount) may be displaying with this recent eruption.

I’m guessing USGS is monitoring it. Loihi, our little keiki! Mahalo!

— Mary McHugh, Kaneohe

The volcano changed a life (May 29, 2018)

In 1967, I stood on a wooden platform gazing with amazement down into Halemaumau Crater.

I was 13 years old at the time, with long ginger hair. All Native Hawaiians passing me while I was on the island gently stroked the top of my head/hair, murmured “Pele,” and suddenly I felt sacrosanct.

My experiences while on Hawaii changed my young life, making me a much stronger human being.

Aloha and mahalo.

— Melissa Elaine Smith, Tallahassee, Florida

The R Word

A journey with no end in sight (June 3, 2018)

Retirement is just a road sign in life that too many of us take to mean slow down and yield to the inevitability of age (“There’s Got To Be A Better Word Than ‘Retired’ For This New Phase Of Life”). But to the author of this piece, it was a signpost of new promise and fulfillment just ahead.

I saw that sign, too, a few years ago. At 63, I thought I’d have it made in retirement with a beautiful home on the Big Island, a couple of pensions and good friends. But quickly I found myself being sucked into a soul-crushing routine, sinking deeper into my retirement recliner, asleep, TV remote still in hand, trying to stay afloat financially with mandatory health care, transportation costs, and ever-increasing taxes threatening the sustainability of my fixed income.

I began to realize that my life had taken a left turn down a rutty road toward early demise, though I was not sure what to do.

One night I was flicking through YouTube travel videos when I saw an animal market in central Guatemala. I was fascinated. I thought, “Damn, if I ever travel, that’s the kind of thing I’d like to go see.”

Then the thunderbolt struck: “Why wasn’t I traveling?”

At that moment I jumped up and started planning, researching, putting my affairs in order, selling or giving away everything I couldn’t carry on my back and working out, all with renewed vigor and purpose. I was going to be in shape, mentally and physically, for a new adventure on the road beyond retirement, and I was excited.

Eight months later, on Aug. 1, 2016, I said goodbye to Hawaii, my home for nearly 30 years, and embarked on a journey of renewal and revitalization that has changed my life in countless ways.

I’ve visited 13 countries on four continents, enjoyed wonderful experiences and endured some bad, and made so many new friends in faraway places that I cry with joy for how they’ve enriched my life.

Now my journey has no end in sight. I’ve made this road my permanent home in a world I find affordable and hospitable, full of exciting places and wonderful people.

While my life may not be for everyone, I encourage people, as you did, to understand that retirement is not the beginning of the end, but the opening to a richly rewarding new way of life. Just get on that road and see where it goes until the sign finally says, “Dead End.” Then know you’ve done well.

— David Hunter Bishop, currently in Lima, Peru, formerly of Pahoa

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