Up to 2kg of methamphetamine is consumed in the Bay of Plenty each day - a total of up to 20,000 ''hits'' in the region every 24 hours.

That's according to Brave Hearts board member and Te Tuinga Whānau Support Services Trust director Tommy Wilson, who revealed the figures to a room of 50 people that included police, doctors and representatives from Brave Hearts.

Brave Hearts is a free support service for people with loved ones in the grips of substance use and addiction, and the forum was held as part of Brave Hearts' fourth birthday.

There were two ways Wilson knew how much meth was being chewed through, he said.

Advertisement

"We know police seized 1700 kilos, and customs will tell you that they seize about 10 per cent of what gets through, so extrapolate that out to 17,000 kilos," Wilson said.

"But there is also a wonderful survey being done by testing the water [wastewater]."

While the figure was uncomfortable for many in the room to acknowledge, Wilson wanted those attending to understand methamphetamine was not a "criminal" problem but a "health" problem.

"It's a health problem, and how can we deal with this health problem that is the fallout of the families that we see coming into our services.

"We know that the taiaha (wooden weapon) of knowledge is what is going to beat any battle that we face, whether it be homelessness, environment or addiction."

Tony Farrell is a GP who specialises in addiction. Photo / File
Tony Farrell is a GP who specialises in addiction. Photo / File

Mount Maunganui's Dr Tony Farrell is one of a handful of GPs in the country who specialises in treating addiction.

He spoke to those in attendance, stressing that addiction was "a very treatable condition that took community support".

Farrell said there were many factors of why someone battled with addiction, but family history was a big indicator.

Advertisement

"Childhood trauma is massive. We know if you get exposed to maybe your parents splitting up or abuse, at least four or more episodes of that, then your chances of ever taking drugs just go up in a linear fashion."

Therefore, focusing on tamariki and whānau was the way forward to reduce the incidents of addiction. But for those already addicted, the solution was still awhi (support), Farrell said.

"Addiction is a disease like cancer, diabetes or depression.

"We need to try to look at drug use as a social issue ... if we can get a framework of mind to look at things that way we can make it easier for people to come forward."

He said the prohibitionist stance on drugs had created stigma and shame and led to people not getting the hope they need.