One Day at a Time to Beating ‘Ice’

An article written about Narcotics Anonymous in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, with the cooperation of the O’ahu Public Information Committee.

One Day at a Time to Beating ‘Ice’

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Columnist
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Derek can tell you, to the day, how long he’s been clean and sober.

When we sat down for this interview, it was 10 years, eight months and 12 days.

He counts the days because that’s part of the program he follows: one day at a time.

“Everybody is looking for a cure or a fix with this ice epidemic,” Derek says. “It’s going to be one addict at a time, one day at a time.”

Derek got clean by following the Narcotics Anonymous program. He stays clean by continuing to go to meetings, by following the 12 steps, by giving and receiving support from other NA members.

“My sponsor always says if you held a meeting for everyone who needed it, you’d have to hold it in Aloha Stadium,” he says. “But NA is for people who want it.”

At first, Derek didn’t want it.

He was incarcerated, and going to meetings was something his counselor made him do. Later, his parole officer made attendance at NA meetings a requirement.

“Going to treatment, going to meetings, that doesn’t mean you get clean,” he says. “I was going just to get my paper signed.”

But when his parole officer gave him the choice to get clean or go back to jail, Derek got serious.

He came from a family of addicts. His grandfather was an alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic who died at age 53. “His liver and his kidneys exploded one day. He couldn’t stop drinking,” Derek says.

In his drug days, ice was new on the scene.

“Back then, we thought ice was good. It let us quit cocaine,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to hook up with a bunch of guys who were serious about their recovery.

“This program talked about change and I realized I had to change. But there was a lot of fear in that change. It was uncharted territory.”

He followed the steps, which are adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous program. This involves admitting there is a problem, seeking help, self-appraisal, confidential self-disclosure, making amends where harm has been done and working with other addicts who want to recover.

“After a matter of time,” Derek says, “the friends I had in the drug world got less and less and the people I knew in the program got more and more. Now, everyone I associated with in my using days is either locked up or dead.”

It took time, but Derek built a new life for himself. He successfully completed probation. He has a job. He bought a house. He is the proud father of two children.

“My children are fortunate to grow up in a drug-free environment,” he says. “They play sports. They do well in school.

He goes to meetings and counts each day.

On Friday and Sunday in this column, other recovering addicts share their experiences in Narcotics Anonymous.

The program is a nonprofit fellowship that has no religious affiliation, and no membership dues or fees.

For details on Narcotics Anonymous, call 734-4357 or visit

Lee Cataluna’s column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or

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