We all need a grateful bed when times are tough and we all need someone to lean on when we can't carry whatever burden it is weighing us down.

Right now there is a real need for some grateful beds to help ease the burden for those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Right now is when we need them and not next April when the Government will assess and act on findings of the recently released Mental Health and Addiction inquiry.

Right now here in Tauranga we have only one grateful bed available and the rest of the Bay of Plenty is no better, with a waiting list longer than a line of streeties waiting for a Friday night kai.


Ironically, the only beds available seem to be in a prison cell or a downtown footpath when all other warning signs have been ignored and the hand reaching out for help has been given a few gold coins and sent away to the nearest tinny house or liquor outlet.

There is never a day goes by in our line of work that some lost soul comes looking for a grateful bed and if we were to peel back the whakapapa (history) of hard knocks they bring in with them there is always a crisis point of disconnection.

Time after time the story sounds the same where a short term fix of drugs and or alcohol offers up a pathway to a long term problem that will keep invoicing a debt of desperation as the unsolved issue compounds like a loan from a Shylock cash converter.

When the Mental Health & Addiction inquiry came to town, we went along and told our sad story, as did an army of awhi angels, all standing up and on behalf of the lost, the lonely, and the desperately addicted in Aotearoa.

The pain on the faces of those listening on the panel and those sharing their trauma were one in the same. It was empathy and boo hoo juice by the bucket full as it was frustrating all of us knowing there were no grateful beds to start the healing process of disconnected people.

Now that we have heard the sad stories as told to the inquiry what happens next?

Where does the road lead to the grateful bed after an inquiry, almost a year in the making into New Zealand's approach to mental health and addiction, has resulted in 40 recommendations?

We went along and told our story to the panel and we now need to know where to from here?

Yes it will always be about the f word but more than just funding when do we face up to the real taniwha in the whare, waipiro?

Waipiro - aka alcohol is a very powerful legal drug that we have glamorised for way too long.

From the time I was a paperboy outside the local pub when 6 o'clock closing was a ticking time bomb to get as many jugs as possible into an hour of drinking, I knew it was a dangerous drug.

I would watch my uncles turn from happy smiling hard working husbands, into ugly angry men after an hour of urgent sculling - courtesy of 6 o'clock closing - and I knew it was not for me.

Only trouble is I looked elsewhere for my buzz not knowing they were all drugs that would come calling for their pound of flesh one day just like the Shylock selling cash.

In my boring as teetotalling opinion there are many vulnerable families and whanau, mostly from poorer parts of our community, who have inherited this urgency to consume alcohol.

What we have now is a generation of juice junkies getting younger and younger, and more violent. Could it be that there is almost a genetically inherited disposition to drink as much as you can as quick as you can, just like some of their angry uncles and fathers did back in the day of 6 o'clock closing?

Would increasing the age back up to 20 help? Absolutely!

Would the beer barons and corner store outlets agree - hell no.

They don't have to pick up the tab of broken hearts, minds and families.

Perhaps they could all chip in and sponsor some grateful beds. Yeah right.

What we do know is a drug is a drug, legal or otherwise, and our kids are reaching out for help and finding it in the most available drug of all – alcohol.

There is clear evidence that alcohol plays a part in at least 50 per cent of all youth suicides outlined in the Law Commission report of 2008.

Where are our treatment facilities to handle this tsunami of suicides?

Alcohol is a legal drug that permeates poorer communities and it is the vulnerable who can least afford to pay for it short term and long term and it is the over commercialisation and availability of alcohol targeting the vulnerable that is, in my opinion, the taniwha in the whare or the elephant in the house.

Where are our grateful beds to offer an oasis to the addicted - who want to come clean and come home to their whanau?