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What was the most used drug among Honolulu Female Inmates?


There is a lot I know about women in prison and thousands have demanded more input from my memories. Today, drugs, women, prison.


The good stuff was out of reach

I was incarcerated in Honolulu for possession of a prescription pill. Addiction fuels the state economy in a variety of ways. Most incarcerated women had been on drugs. Ironically there was no sustained supply of illegal drugs. The women were too eager to tell on each other to curry favor with staff, many if whom were friends and relatives in the islands. Inmates were stuck with pharmaceuticals that doctors give people with addictions. The best you can get is something that will make you sleep. Sleeping is the best way to pass your time. The only drugs that will put an inmate to sleep are in the antipsychotic class. I guess psychosis was not really being treated as much as tamped down. The number 1 choice…drumroll, please…Seroquel. That is one drug with ugly side effects. Fifty pound weight gain in under a month. “Sleep eating” similar to actions caused by a drug unavailable to inmates—Ambien. Inability to concentrate on any reading whatsoever. After a couple of months the med turns on you and keeps you up, especially if you miss the “window” or time of feeling drowsy. If you do not get to fall asleep during that 15 minutes, oh well. But in the beginning the drug can get you 18 solid hours of unconsciousness. It was the drug most likely to be carried back from the med line the way a mama bird carries food in her mouth back to the nest. Women who could not convince the psych they were psychotic by saying “I see voices,” traded commissary items to women with more recognized mental illness in exchange for smuggled bits of that drug. Between the rice, bread and generic psych meds, no wonder women left prison overweight!

The precious pharmaceutical was not easily secreted but women who had no money but were given psych meds found a way to get the pills back to the housing unit. Taking pills that had once been in another person’s mouth was an example for some women of how long cherished values can be tossed aside easily to feed an addiction. A person cannot imagine what she will do before she is in any given situation. It helped release me from the burden of judging people to learn there is an endlessly new person within me who will only emerge in exigent circumstances. Kind if exciting…

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