A reformed drug addict has opened an exclusive detox clinic in Auckland that has even attracted a Hollywood hero, says Rebecca Lewis
Hollywood is coming. But forget the glitz and glamour - this is about drugs and alcohol. Opening at a secret west Auckland location in August, the Serenity Drug Addiction Clinic is a $30,000-a-month rehabilitation centre catering to the world's rich and famous. The clinic is the latest venture from former drug addict William Murdoch, a car salesman from Invercargill who made it big in America and now lives in Piha. With help from two of the world's most respected American addiction specialists, Dr Ericha Scott and Dr Bethany Tucker, clients to the exclusive clinic can expect an holistic approach to rehabilitation, with outdoor activities, yoga and five-star organic cuisine. "The clinic offers dual diagnosis for drug treatment and personal trauma treatment and will help people medically and psychologically with really cool activities and amazing food," says Mr Murdoch. "The whole thing will be completely private and confidential, I really want to help people get better. There's nowhere better to get sober than in New Zealand because we have so much to offer here. "One Hollywood star has already booked in, but I can't say who," he adds. Mr Murdoch became a minor celebrity in 2003 after a tumultuous relationship with B-grade celebrity Aja Rock. Drug use and drinking eventually took over Murdoch's life, causing him to lose his millions and landing him in court in 2003. After being convicted for importing and distributing a Class B drug, Murdoch turned his life around and opened the rehab centre. A portion of the profits from the exclusive clinic will also go towards funding a public clinic to help regular Kiwis battle their addictions. The idea for a rehabilitation clinic came to its owner when he found out there were fewer than 500 rehabilitation and detox beds in hospitals throughout the country. There are only around 20 in Auckland. "There's basically nowhere for addicts to go in this country except police cells and psychiatric wards," says Murdoch. "And that doesn't help anyone." But despite the need for rehabilitation services, not everyone is happy about the centre. Henderson resident Michelle Walker thinks opening a centre for drug addicts will only give people another reason to turn to drugs and alcohol. "If there's somewhere safe for people to go, then maybe they'll think, 'It doesn't matter if I try P because I can just go to that place to get better'," she says. "It doesn't send out a good message for young people." Titirangi father-of-three, Murray Gordon, agrees. "What's stopping those people from going in for help and then coming out and doing it again?" he says. "And bringing Hollywood celebrities into the country will only give our young kids the impression that doing drugs is cool." But Murdoch insists the exclusive clinic can only bring good things to New Zealand. "Having experts on addiction come over here and raise the profile of rehabilitation in a positive way is only a positive thing for this country," he says. "Even if it takes people two or three tries in rehab, which is how long it took me, it's better than locking people up. "I am more happy and more settled than I have ever been before in my life, and I've got a real good feeling about this." The Serenity clinic also plans to extend to properties in Central Otago and the Coromandel.