Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Meth is everywhere, says reformed addict Haydee Richards

A reformed meth addict believes most people don't realise just how prevalent the drug is.

"It's everywhere," Haydee Richards says.

Richards bravely sharing her story about her spiral of addiction to the highly destructive drug comes as experts say resources are being stretched too thinly with some clinics in Auckland being "inundated" by people needing help.

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The Tauranga mother of two began using in her late 20s about 12 years ago and at the start thought she was in control.

But her life quickly spun out of control as the addiction took hold - she was forced to leave her part-time job because she was always late, developed a gambling problem and even turned to dealing meth so she could afford her habit.

She said it ruined her life.

"I feel like I lost my whole self. It destroys you. I was a really empty person - I had no soul.

"That's what I lived for in the end. It was a vicious cycle of hunting down drugs so I could just feel okay, not even good."

Executive director of the Addiction Practitioners' Association, Sue Paton, said by coming forward Richards had helped to change the common idea of who a meth addict is - likely someone of a lower socio-economic standing with a connection to gangs.

Richards has previously had gang connections.

Paton said meth addiction didn't burden one gender over the other or destroy lives in just one class of society - it was a problem which stretched across the strata. "And as the problem grows, our resources are being stretched more thinly even though addiction practitioners say the only way to fix the issue is to cut off demand for the drug by helping those dependant on it."

Paton said although police were doing a great job at shutting down local manufacturers and stopping huge imports at the border, as long as there was still a demand people would find a way to get the destructive drug into New Zealand.

Treatment centres needed more beds to increase their capacity and a greater emphasis needed to be put on early addiction detection by general practitioners and at services like Family Planning, she said.

"Unless you reduce demand, someone's going to find a way of getting truckloads of meth into the country.

"What we know for our services that people are waiting for three or four months, but if you don't strike while the iron's hot when people are motivated to go into treatment you've lost that window of opportunity."

Paton said meth addiction also didn't seem to strike one gender over another but said clinics in Auckland had recently been inundated by people dependant on the drug.

- NZ Herald

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