Addiction Treatment in American Samoa
Alcohol and drug addiction is a significant problem for American Samoa. In 2017, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga declared substance abuse an “epidemic” in American Samoa and established a Drug Control Commission to address the problem. The American Samoan authorities have mobilized public agencies, religious groups, non-profit organizations, and village councils in a Territory-wide effort to combat addiction.
Alcohol has been especially harmful in American Samoa. Unfortunately, most incidents of crime in American Samoa involve alcohol, including 72% of homicides and 70% of domestic abuse cases. In the past several years, occurrences of DUI in the Territory have increased by over 100%.
The police in American Samoa regularly collaborate with the FBI, the Coast Guard, and other federal organizations to confiscate illegal drugs which smugglers bring into the Territory, often by mail. The illegal drug trade in American Samoa and other Pacific communities is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2019, American Samoan police confiscated stashes of marijuana and methamphetamine worth $130,000 and $800,000, respectively. The following year, police arrested two men in Pago Pago for possession of large batches of those same drugs.
As a result of American Samoa’s drug problem, the government began preparations in 2017 to open a rehabilitation and detox center in Pago Pago. While the center remains in development, American Samoans tend to travel abroad for addiction treatment. Hawaii has been the most popular destination for American Samoans who require drug and alcohol rehab.
American Samoa and Opioids
The Opioid Epidemic has affected American Samoa and all other U.S. territories. Codeine, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and hydrocodone are the most common opioids in American Samoa. Since information about opioid overdoses among American Samoans is limited, the government has recently undertaken to determine how many American Samoans struggle with an opioid use disorder and increase their access to treatment.
Unlike most states and Puerto Rico, American Samoa does not have a treatment program which offers patients methadone or buprenorphine, two medications which temper opioid addiction. Fortunately, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration gave $630,000 to American Samoa last year as a grant to help resolve this treatment disparity.
Drug Laws in American Samoa
American Samoa enforces strict laws against the possession and sale of illegal drugs. The American Samoa Code classifies a wide range of depressants, stimulants, opioids, hallucinogens, and barbiturates as controlled substances. Some of the most common illegal drugs in American Samoa are marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and psilocybin mushrooms. Anyone who possesses controlled substances in American Samoa may be charged with a Class D Felony and be sentenced to pay heavy fines and serve years in prison, without the possibility of parole.
|Conviction for Possession||Mandatory Minimum Sentence|
|First Conviction||Five to ten years in prisons, a fine of $5,000 to $20,000, or both|
|Second Conviction||Ten to twenty years in prisons, a fine of $20,000 to $30,000, or both|
|Third Conviction||Fifteen to thirty years in prisons, a fine of $30,000 to $40,000, or both|
Alcohol is legal in American Samoa for adults who are at least 21 years old, but anyone who commits DUI in the Territory may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Under the Tobacco Restriction Act, the smoking age in American Samoa is 18 years old, but smoking is prohibited in all public places. Furthermore, tobacco vendors in American Samoa must be validly licensed.
Learn More About Rehab Today
If you are a resident of American Samoa and you or your loved one struggles with a substance use disorder, it is possible to get help. While resources for treatment in American Samoa are limited, the Territory is building infrastructure for addiction recovery. Furthermore, there are rehab centers in the Pacific region and the United States mainland where American Samoans can begin to overcome addiction. Today is the day to take the first step to sobriety and a better life. Please contact a dedicated treatment provider today to get answers to your questions about rehab and learn about your options.