And council president Tereapii Tumutoa says a concerted effort is needed to curb this problem before it gets out of control.
Cook Islands have been seen as a sitting duck for the infamous drug cartels that control the international drug flow and there are reports of hard drugs such as meth and cocaine being supplied and consumed in the country.
Tumutoa said revelations that such drugs were doing the rounds here was worrying and a matter of grave concern.
He said there was a need for stakeholders and agencies to work together to tackle the meth problem.
“I think once it gets here, it will open the door to bigger problems. The best way to it is start working now with relevant organisations to tackle the issue,” Tumutoa said.
“Our youth are already exposed to things like alcohol and I think that makes them vulnerable to drugs such as meth. I think they (the Cook Islands youth) can potentially become the target market (for meth suppliers).”
Children are among those being targeted by drug syndicates in Tonga, which is one of the Pacific island countries grappling with the meth menace.
In a special investigation late last year, TVNZ’s 1 News revealed several primary and high schools have put security measures in place to protect children who are being approached by dealers to make deliveries.
“The use of meth in Tonga is rampant – to the point where dealers are encouraging kids to try it because they know they’ll have a client for life,” a Tongan woman, who knows firsthand as her loved ones are involved, told 1 News.
Local counsellor Thomas Wynne has warned meth use, supply and production will destroy our paradise, community and future if authorities do not work together now and across all agencies and non-government organisations.
“The fact that it is here and has been here for a while is alarming but of no surprise to any of us working in our communities,” Thomas told CINews.
“That the meth food chain is now being fed back to drug cartels in South America changes the whole schema of meth and its value,” Thomas said.
“We should not be complacent that somewhere in that supply chain and supply that people here are not involved.
“Regardless, we must use the tools we have at our disposal to educate and saturate the message to our people and our youth and government that we do not want any involvement with meth or its production or supply.”
Wynne confided that his own family had been ravaged by meth, also known as ice or P.
“I know firsthand the damage it can cause and I would never want another family here in the Cook Islands to go through what a number of other families here have suffered as well. Together we can stop this, but we will have to move quickly and move now.”
CINews last week launched an investigative campaign dubbed The Meth Menace in an effort to help curtail the meth problem.
Publisher John Woods said: “Along with articles and opinion pieces exposing the problem, we’re assembling a leadership group to ensure we’re part of the solution, advising and informing our journalists and our readers on all aspects of the meth problem.
“Because this is far more than a law and order problem: it’s an important health and social challenge. So this group will include community leaders representing law enforcement, youth, church and social responders such as counsellors and medics.”
In future issues, recovering meth users and addicts will reveal their stories explaining how they got clean, to offer hope to other users and their families.