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Tackling addiction

EVIDENCE of high levels of methamphetamine in Gisborne's wastewater explains why the East Coast and Bay of Plenty will be included in an expanded programme aimed at reducing harm from the Class A drug.

The Government will roll out the Te Ara Oranga methamphetamine treatment programme to 4000 people in the East Coast and Bay of Plenty.

Te Ara Oranga is a methamphetamine harm-reduction pilot in Northland led by the Northland District Health Board and police.

The programme is part of a long-term project, involving an Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court in Hawke's Bay, an expanded Maori Pathways prison rehabilitation programme to wahine Maori, and strengthening the Maori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Group within the police, all aimed at reducing offending and improving rehabilitation, said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The law and order initiatives will involve an additional investment of $59 million over four years.

Methamphetamine is a devastating drug and it is ruining lives. It can have a horrific impact, especially on youth and vulnerable people.

It affects not only the person using it, but families, friends and the wider community.

“Supporting communities ravaged by methamphetamine use is critical for New Zealand to thrive,” said Ms Ardern.

“We will continue to tackle this issue using a twin-track approach of targeting supply and demand by getting methamphetamine off our streets, while boosting wrap-around support to address addiction, improve wellbeing for people and families, and build resilience.

“Te Ara Oranga is about engaging the community and agencies, focusing on delivering a holistic approach to health and policing to produce better outcomes for all.

“The initiative links evidence-based health services with police prevention and enforcement activity.

“Te Ara Oranga aligns the resources of police and the DHB to reduce supply through targeted enforcement, and reduce demand by identifying users and engaging them in a recovery-based treatment approach before they become involved in the court process.

“It supports long-term change in methamphetamine users by providing intensive clinical interventions, employment support, and a range of psychosocial supports, leading to better outcomes for them, their families and their community.

“Through Te Ara Oranga in Northland we have already seen:

' Referrals to treatment rose from 24 to 611 between December 2017 and June 2020

' Arrests rose from 9 to 195 between December 2017 and June 2020

' 1899 treatment cases managed by methamphetamine-focused clinicians

' 95 people supported into new jobs.

“This evidence reflects an effective programme that we want rolled out to other communities dealing with the impacts of methamphetamine use.”