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First-ever detox clinic opens on Hawaii Island

<i>KITV</i><br/>A first-of-its-kind detox center opened its doors Thursday in Hilo.
Willingham, James
A first-of-its-kind detox center opened its doors Thursday in Hilo.

By Jeremy Lee

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    HILO, Hawaii (KITV) — A first-of-its-kind detox center opened its doors Thursday in Hilo.

“It’s about saving lives,” clinical director Lahela Kruse told Island News.

Those at Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC) say this new detox clinic in central Hilo has a very practical mission.

“Hope,” CEO Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita said, “We give people hope. And I don’t want to say that we didn’t before, but I think more so now we’re reaching people who are much more vulnerable and probably at their wit’s end trying to figure out, like, is treatment even possible?”

The halls of the new facility (in an old family-run neighborhood hospital) were active for the first time Thursday, as Big Island’s only detox clinic opened its doors.

It’s not a drop-in clinic however, and serves specific needs.

“These are the folks, the detox list. These are the ones that need to get in because either they ran out of drugs and their body is in withdrawals. These are the ones we take in here. So we manage the withdrawals and we help manage their medication from an outside doctor,” Kruse said.

“We are putting it out to the public that they can call our central line which is 808-969-9994 or you can go on to our website at and there’s a referral link on the top right hand corner,” Preston-Pita added.

County and state funding played a role in empowering the Big Island Substance Abuse Council’s vision.

“Department of Health pays for the services itself, for our alcohol and drug abuse division. We did receive a grant, $1.2 million from the homeless grant through the county, and that’s to support more operational costs to run the program,” Preston-Pita explained.

The clinic has some unique offerings in its program, such as massage, acupuncture and other cultural practices.

“To see how best we could help this client, not only physically, but also spiritually. We will be offering acupuncture as a way to assist in the cravings. We’re the first detox clinic in the state to offer these modalities,” Kruse said.

“We’re able to service more people, and now not only having a small portion of the continuum of care, but now we’re able to provide the full continuum of care,” Preston-Pita told Island News.

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