One Hawaiian High Schooler Fights to Break Addiction

LANI is only just beginning the struggle to escape her craving for ``ice.'' More than a year after moving away from a group of Filipino friends who had a seemingly endless supply of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, the jittery 16-year-old sophomore still finds herself smoking the potent drug every day.

Some of Lani's friends - seven of them, she thinks - not only sell ice but also manufacture it in Honolulu laboratories. They continue to feed her addiction by sending packets of ice through the mail or by stuffing it in their suitcases when they come to expand their business on Maui.

``Sometimes I feel like bugs are crawling all over me,'' says Lani (not her real name), looking down at her blue-jean shorts as she remembers the hallucinations. ``Sometimes I hear people calling my name, yelling.''

Slowly, with difficulty, Lani is reaching out for help.

Several weeks ago, she showed up at the office of Maui High School counselor Valerie Muroki to talk about her addiction. Mrs. Muroki, who had set up a peer-counseling program five years ago to deal with student violence, listened in the same spirit of self-help - and confidentiality.

``It's good she came while there's still a flicker of conscience there,'' Muroki says. ``It means it's not too late.''

Last weekend, the laid-back counselor learned that Lani's parents - ``Her role models!'' Muroki exclaims - are hooked on cocaine.

To Sally Brown, a substance-abuse counselor who works regularly with students at the school, it was not surprising: She says 80 percent of the drug-addicted teenagers she has dealt with this year have addicted parents.

But the news makes it that much more encouraging because on Monday, Lani showed up voluntarily for a drug-treatment session with Ms. Brown. At this point, the counselors at Maui High are the only role models she has.

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