The clinical manager of a new drug treatment programme being offered at Whanganui Prison says it has helped change the lives of many of its graduates.

Whanganui was the first prison in the country to add a drug treatment programme to the Te Tirohanga educational pathway offered to inmates.

It was early days with the programme starting about 12 months ago, but the clinical manager of the programme, Mark Wood, said they'd had success.

"Well I feel like we have. We get guys that are telling us that it's changed their lives," he said.

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"It feels like a ... factory some days because we get guys in and out and in and out ... so we have a 12 week programme but we have three of them running at the same time."

The Parole Board reported there were 18 graduates of the Te Tirohanga programme who were released thanks to reports and relapse plans provided by the initiative.

The programme is being jointly funded by the Whanganui District Health Board, the Whanganui Regional Health Network and local iwi mental health provider Te Oranganui.