Iwi call for rehab centre to tackle Tauranga's growing meth epidemic

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Ngati Ranginui chief executive Steph O'Sullivan says the board strongly supported introducing local rehabilitation centre to Tauranga. PHOTO/FILE
Ngati Ranginui chief executive Steph O'Sullivan says the board strongly supported introducing local rehabilitation centre to Tauranga. PHOTO/FILE

Tauranga iwi leaders are calling for a specialised rehabilitation unit to help curb the devastating effects of methamphetamine in the region.

Ngati Ranginui chief executive Steph O'Sullivan said the P epidemic and meth use had ballooned in recent years and was significantly impacting regional areas.

''Obviously there's always a need for rehabilitative services to be in a regional area and over time there seems to have been a reduction in both alcohol and drug rehabilitation services,'' she said.

Ms O'Sullivan said the board strongly supported introducing a local rehabilitation centre to Tauranga, with two members already working on a strategy ''not with their board hats on but under their own steam''.

She called on the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to come together with other sectors of the region for a solution.

''The P epidemic is affecting all elements of society,'' she said.

''It's a real misnomer that P is a young Maori male drug. We absolutely need to bust the myth about that. It doesn't choose a demographic group. It's blind and it's ruthless."

Ms O'Sullivan said there needed to be more work in education to prevent people from starting up by making people aware of the drug and its devastating impact, while also supporting those people and their families trying to break free.

''I think it would be a significant challenge. Funding is so highly sought-after and I appreciate that the DHB are dealing with a whole range of different and significant issues.
So getting the wider community involved is important, not just the DHB.''

Ms O'Sullivan said it was not just a matter of getting the house or the facilities.

"It's about getting the right people and resources so it's set up and sustainable. It needs to be a collaborative effort.''

Ngai Te Rangi Runanga spokesman Paora Stanley said methamphetamine use was growing at a similar rate to Tauranga's population. Mr Stanley told Maori Television too many programmes have been under-resourced or not resourced at all in terms of prevention. Local services had not seen a funding increase to help treat the increasing methamphetamine problem, he said.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board mental health clinical director Dr Sue Mackersey said addictions were often chronic, relapsing and complex.

While the majority of treatments were provided to people in the community, a small proportion of treatment was delivered in a residential care type setting, she said in a written response.

''The BOPDHB does work with contracted providers of residential services for addictions but not specifically for methamphetamine addiction. It is common that this addiction presents with other mental health, addiction, physical health and social issues,'' she said.

''The DHB-contracted providers have done a great deal of work co-ordinating access to a broad range of treatment approaches. There is local and regional co-ordinated planning of service development and the provision of local residential services for addiction may be considered as part of future service delivery.''

Dr Mackersey said the contractors met on a quarterly basis at an Addiction Networking Forum.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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