The largest youth drugs service in the Bay of Plenty says it has seen no rise in referrals for methamphetamine use in recent months.
The Bay of Plenty District Health Board's (BOPDHB) Youth Alcohol and other Drugs (AOD) service, Sorted, said fewer than 10 of the 230-250 referrals it received a year would have used methamphetamine.
"As part of our work in the Bay of Plenty we have observed little change in reasons for why young people are referred to our service, with this primarily being due to cannabis and/or alcohol use," said Sorted Registered Social Worker Caleb Putt, of the group which works primarily with young people under 18 years old.
"Anecdotally, there has been little evidence of any change to young people's patterns of use in the community as we interact with our key referring services, such as: Youth Justice, Police Youth Aid, hospital emergency departments, secondary schools and alternative education providers.
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"Typically there would be less than 10 young people a year referred to Sorted who have ever tried methamphetamine, and only two or three a year for whom methamphetamine is their substance of choice — or at least are meeting criteria for problematic use of this substance."
Mr Putt said Sorted emphasised youth friendliness, accessibility and maintaining a focus on engagement in delivering its service.
"This is regardless of what substance a young person is using as for most young people they are sceptical and often reluctant about wanting to engage with an AOD service.
"Confidentiality, flexibility (in terms of where young people are seen) and emphasising harm reduction and safety messages are all important aspects of service delivery, with any hint of judgement or talk of abstinence likely to disengage most young people.
"Young people who are thinking about using or who are using methamphetamine will get this same quality of service as any other young person," he said.
Sorted not only works with young people referred due to AOD use but also with young people experiencing mental health difficulties as well as AOD problems, and are based within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
Other Youth AOD services that are available to young people include Get Smart, Te Manu Toroa, Nga Kakano Foundation, Ngaiterangi Iwi Trust and Maketu Hauora, Tuhoe Hauora, Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau, Te Whanau Apanui and Emerge Aotearoa.