Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

Meth use on the rise in Rotorua

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Photo/File
Photo/File

Experts say methamphetamine is widely available in Rotorua and its accessibility is growing despite the fact meth labs are uncommon in the area.

Detective Sergeant Mark Van Kempen from the Criminal Investigation Branch said methamphetamine was available in Rotorua, as it was in other areas in New Zealand.

"For a person in the meth scene, it is easy to access and get hold of or to purchase.

"Meth labs are not that common in Rotorua. That is because there is a ready supply of end product and manufacture is not necessary."

In a response to an Official Information Act request sent by the Rotorua Daily Post, John O'Keeffe, co-ordinator of the National Drug Intelligence Bureau, said that there had been six meth labs discovered in Rotorua in the past five years.

The statement also said there had been seven people prosecuted for making methamphetamine in the same time frame.

Eight other houses had been searched but did not meet the criteria of a "meth lab", the statement said.

Mr Van Kempen said there had been an increase to accessibility of the drug in recent years, "but once again that accessibility is restricted to those in the scene".

"With drugs, whatever the type, comes crime. Drugs are still a major driver of family harm and volume crime and as the drug problem increases so does the crime."

Mr Van Kempen said methamphetamine and cannabis were problems.

"Police deal with the issue by investigating reports of drug use, sales and manufacture. Those who are identified as being involved are dealt with in a manner appropriate to the situation."

He said if anyone suspected a drug house was operating in the community, call Rotorua police on (07) 349 9400 or Crimestoppers on (0800) 555 111.

Lakes District Health Board communications officer Sue Wilkie said methamphetamine substance abuse was an issue for all District Health Boards throughout New Zealand.

"Its increased prevalence and use can create negative consequences for users and their families, and for society more broadly."

She said the Lakes District Health Board's Mental Health and Addictions Service received and treated clients with methamphetamine addictions or increased psychosis (where the client has an underlying mental health illness) as a consequence of abuse of the substance.

"All substance abuses create challenges to clients' mental and physical health ... as methamphetamine prevalence increases within Rotorua, there is a corresponding increase in clients attending mental health and addiction services.

"We do sometimes have patients presenting or brought to ED who have taken methamphetamine."

Miss Wilkie said the health board provided a series of health services to support people and their families living with addiction.

That included the mental health and addictions services, primary health care services and a number of non-governmental organisations.

"If you know, or believe, a family member has issues associated with substance abuse contact your GP or family doctor or any of the other mental health services to engage in treatment," she said.

Haehaetu Barrett, service manager at Lifewise Mental Health & Addictions Services said the people they treated had acknowledged there was an issue and came to get help.

"[Meth] has been around for a long time, what we are seeing is a problem not only in using, but the crime around it as well.

"The access to the drug is so available, anybody can get it, it's not hard.

"It's not just in one certain area it's throughout New Zealand and it's going to grow, people need to make a stance and stand up against it."

Ms Barrett said it's often about families helping those who were addicted as it was important for people to have support.

"We have counsellors and peer workers who have been there and have come through the other side."

She said they had three peer workers who had been addicts and had turned their lives around who now worked with those trying to do the same thing.

Te Utuhina Manaakitanga general manager Donna Blair said she and her staff believed there was an issue with methamphetamine in Rotorua.

"We hear stories from whai ora and whanau that there appears to be significant 'P' use in the community."

She said the number of people accessing treatment for P use was relatively small in comparison to alcohol and cannabis.

"This is not to say that it's not out there as people may go through their GP."

She said people who used 'P' knew where to get it from.

She encouraged anyone who wanted help for an addiction to seek support from a GP, whanau and friends or to go and see a duty counsellor, 1st floor, 1154 Hinemoa St or contact the AOD Helpline on (0800) 211 211.

But, she said the best thing to do was to "stop before you start, you do not know what's in it and will make things a hell of a lot worse".

Methamphetamine laboratories discovered:
2011
Selwyn Heights: 1
Westbrook: 1
2012
Pukehangi: 1
2014
In a vehicle: 1
2015
Koutu: 1
Western Heights: 1
*There were none in 2013 or 2016 to March.

Suspected laboratories checked:
2012
Murupara: 1
Western Heights: 1
Ngongotaha: 1
2013
Hannah's Bay: 1
Horohoro: 1
2015
Fordlands: 1
Western Heights: 1
Utuhina: 1
*There were none in 2011, 2014 or 2016 to March.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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