The opposite to addiction is connection, according to Dr Tony Farrell, a local Mountie, who in my mind is the country's leading medical authority when it comes to dealing with disconnected addicts and the effect it is having on their whanau and families.

Tony has been around the drug scene almost as long as Winston has been around politics, both of them masters at prescribing their own medicine to fixing up what is broken, be it the political landscape or the hearts and minds of our lost youth and their wider disconnected families.

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What stands Tony up alongside any other clinician in the field of addiction is that he focuses on what caused the disconnection in the first place, as much as the self-medication and or the choice of painkiller chosen to numb their pain.


The richly rewarding thing about this approach is it takes on the whole menu of mind-altering drugs both legal and illegal, from painkillers to pints of Pilsner and all of the bad buggers in between such as synthetics, psychoactive substances as well as the headline grabbers of meth and marijuana.

For my two bobs' worth of why human beings like to blow our minds with attitude-adjusting addictive substances is we need to face the fact a drug is a drug, and alcohol is by far the drug of choice causing the most mayhem in the families we deal with every day.

Because it is legal carries no clout for me and many others who work in the field of homelessness and lost youth. When you listen to Dr Farrell's korero you soon get a clear picture of how society has glamorised and normalised one drug (alcohol) by demonising and stigmatising the others.

This may sound simplistic but the time for dancing around drugs and pretending to say no to one and saying yes to the ones that suit our own habits has arrived, like an invoice we knew was coming, and no longer can we park the problem with our police and our prisons.

Addictions are a health problem long before they should become a criminal one.

Until this attitude changes nothing much will change with how we approach the generation of juice junkies coming our way, and the prisons and youth detention centres will keep filling up as the whanau homes continue to be broken and emptied out around us.

We are becoming Aotearoa, the land of the lost. A society of disconnecting addictive inhabitants who are looking at life's choices through lenses of very little hope.

It's not just Dr Farrell saying it.

Mike King is also reaching out to disconnected youth in schools this last week right across the assembly halls of Rotorua colleges, jump-leading our tamariki back from thoughts of taking their own lives.

Over here in Tauranga Moana we have been talking about how we as a community can reconnect with recently released prisoners so they too may reconnect with their families and whanau.

Last Friday we launched a Givealittle project to help the 20,000 children in Aotearoa disconnected from a parent in prison as a pro-active solution.

If inmates can reconnect with family before they come out, there is a 40 per cent chance they will not re-offend and go back. This is consistent with overseas incarceration statistics and for me, it is the silver lining in this our long dark cloud of so-called sensible sentencing.

Surely we should be building bigger stronger family relationships within our disconnected members of our community and not building bigger prisons.

When Daddy Comes Home is a children's book about a little girl who wants to reconnect with her dad, as he does with her, and it launched at 11.11am last Friday (yes, it's that Buddhist thing again) with friends and whanau from a diverse range of backgrounds.

However, we all share a solution-based approach to building a better community for us all to live in.

It doesn't matter where you come from or where you stand on the ladder of perceived success, a connected community is good for everyone, and when we start engaging with all sectors, the currency we measure success with shifts from what we have to what we can share as - it was last Friday.

We all can afford $10 to buy a book for one of the 20,000 disconnected kids.

I leave you with the little girl's prison prayer on the back page of When Daddy Comes Home, a kid's book Children's Commissioner Judge Beecroft has told me is up on his office wall.

Our father who art in prison, Daddy be his name,
His release day will come, his lag will be done,
Give us this day our Father's freedom,
Lead him not into reoffending, and deliver him home to us,
For ours is his whanau, his whare and his freedom,
For ever and ever, Amene.

Give a little; it goes a long way to reconnecting our community.