A Whangārei woman's daughter was just three months away from finishing her nursing degree when she was offered "ecstasy" which she accepted because she was battling a few issues in her life.

Turns out, she was given methamphetamine and she liked the feeling as it made her forget about everything.

She's asked her mum for help to kick the addiction — all while using it on multiple occasions everyday.

But her family in Whangārei has hit a brickwall trying to get her into a long-term rehabilitation clinic in New Zealand. Her other option is a first-class rehab facility in Thailand but that would cost $20,000 every six weeks.


"I don't have 20k spare every eight weeks. But I have a daughter begging for help. I can't say where it will all lead to," the mother, who cannot be named to protect her daughter's identity, lamented.

"Seven months ago, I didn't think she would ever use meth and now she's addicted. Treatment for alcohol abuse is readily available but meth is a hidden subject.''

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After her daughter, in her mid-20s with kids of her own, told her about her meth addiction, the mother sought help from a Whangārei-based agency that works with parents who have children under the age of 4 who used the drug and was advised to contact the Ashburton Clinic in Dunedin as she needed long-term therapy and rehab.

Trouble was, there were only three beds available for patients between Auckland and Cape Reinga which meant a long waiting list.

"We are no further on than we were three months ago. There are no other centres or facilities she can go to in the meantime that will give her the help the service has said she needs.

"She went to Auckland for a while to remove herself from this environment, she's been taken for a ride by gangs. My intention was and is to create discussion around this subject and the impact resulting from limited resources available in our communities, wider communities, towns, cities, nation.

"Government recognises meth is a problem for a long time but I don't think they realise how serious it is. Meth has become an epidemic, like Covid."

Timatanga Hou unit at Dargaville Hospital is one of the treatment facilities for meth addicts in Northland. Photo / Northland DHB
Timatanga Hou unit at Dargaville Hospital is one of the treatment facilities for meth addicts in Northland. Photo / Northland DHB

Without commenting on the daughter's case, Northland District Health Board general manager for mental health and addiction services, Ian McKenzie, highlighted treatment options available to meth addicts in the region.

He said the Te Ara Oranga Model included a matrix of treatment options across Northland DHB mental health and addiction sites, includes six detox beds at detox unit Timatanga Hou based in Dargaville Hospital, the meth hard reduction police team in Whangārei, employment specialists, and whānau group work.

There was also Ngāti Hine Health Trust, he said, that has 12 beds and provided a residential a 16-week programme in Waitangi for tangata 18 years and over with alcohol and or drug issues. The wait times are between two and four months.

Northland DHB has eight detox beds and the waiting list is between four and six weeks.

Last year, 155 patients were discharged from Timatanga Hou compared with about 144 in 2018.

The detox unit provides a fully supportive treatment plan for each patient referred to it, including medical and non-medical intervention, counselling support for the patient and their whānau and focuses on encouraging patients to set achievable goals to help prevent relapses.


Northland DHB will receive $1.2m over four years from the $32m in additional funding the Government announced this week for specialist and drug addiction services throughout New Zealand.

This is in addition to the $1m per annum invested in Te Ara Oranga through Budget 2019.