Community involvement needed to fight methamphetamine

By Ruby Harfield -
Former addict Alana Geddes attended NZ Drug Foundation hui at the Te Aranga marae in Flaxmere. Photo / Paul Taylor.
Former addict Alana Geddes attended NZ Drug Foundation hui at the Te Aranga marae in Flaxmere. Photo / Paul Taylor.

The need for more community involvement in the fight against methamphetamine was discussed at a hui in Flaxmere on Saturday.

The hui, which was held at Te Aranga Marae, was organised by the New Zealand Drug Foundation in an effort to find a solution to drug problems in Hawke's Bay.

Hawke's Bay police Sergeant Nigel Hurley said people in the district already had many of the tools required to fix the problem.

He said communities need to put their heads together and come up with their own ideas on how to help young addicts and prevent others from starting.

"We need to look at what we can do; it needs to be at a community level. There are things we can already do to help."

The sergeant likened the problem to looking after an aphid-ridden tree.

"Spraying the aphids is all very well but before we spray the aphids we need to nurture the seed."

Former addict Chris Jenkins told the crowd that the only way of stopping the problem was supporting addicts.

"Recovery is about rebuilding connections within the community.

"I'm not a big fan of the tough love approach, addicts need love and compassion ... no one can get clean on their own."

Mr Jenkins, who will have been clean for three years on Wednesday, said community support was the only way he overcame drug abuse.

"I found my way out of addiction through people who loved and supported me."

However, Napier woman Alana Geddes, who had a near 10-year meth addiction and has been clean for more than five years, said a community approach only worked for people with family support.

"What do you do with people who don't have whanau support?"

The people who slipped through the cracks wanted help but didn't know where to go.

Dealers were being targeted by law enforcement but it was the users who needed help as they were the ones that started selling "P" to pay for their addictions, she said.

"I just hope that we can do something about it. I'm sick of waiting."

Mana leader Hone Harawira spoke about his efforts in Te Tai Tokerau to rid the region of methamphetamine by creating a rugby league competition as a way of getting people involved with others.

"Drugs are the lifestyle but unless we are engaging with the communities then nothing helps.

"We have to be able to stand up and say we want to be clean of this stuff in our community."

The hui concluded with New Zealand Drug Foundation principal adviser Gilbert Taurua proposing the creation of a local action group against Methamphetamine.

Mr Taurua will now be talking with schools, police, community groups, the DHB and local government to develop a plan for this.

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