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Intervention Needed With Youth - Drug Agency

BETTER INTERVENTION NEEDED TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE AND MINORITY GROUPS – NSAD ANNUAL REPORT

The increase of substance abuse and dependence among young people and minority ethnic groups is concerning the National Society on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, according to its 1999 Annual Report, released today.

“The age, gender and ethnic incidence of substance abuse and dependence is a cause for concern, and calls for better understanding of appropriate interventions for minority ethnic groups and for our youth,” says NSAD Chairman Terrence FitzGerald.

The latest statistics show that more young people are abusing alcohol and drugs, with 14.3% of NSAD’s new outpatient clients in 1999 aged 19 years or younger, compared to 10.6% in 1993.

The number of women clients increased in 1999 to 25%, compared with 17.5% in 1993. Substance abuse and dependence also increased among Maori, rising from 25.5% in 1993 to 31.8% in 1999.

The 1999 Annual Report shows that of the 1,944 new outpatient clients seen by NSAD during the past year:
 14.3% were aged 19 years or less (10.6% in 1993)
 7.9% were of Pacific Island origin (4.6% in 1993)
 31.8% were Tangata Whenua (25.5% in 1993)
 75% were males
 43.8% were in receipt of a benefit (49.8% in 1993)
 60% had not previously received treatment at any agency
 32.1% were 20 to 29 years of age (42.7% in 1993)

In order to revert these trends, Mr FitzGerald calls on the Health Funding Authority to adopt a funding regime based on outcomes rather than outputs.

“If inroads are to be made into the growing problem of alcohol and drug abuse and dependence, the funds will need to be directed to those treatments that provide proven results.”

NSAD says the health reforms and successive restructuring of the health sector over the past decade have put paid to any degree of comfort in respect of future operations.

“After almost 50 years of actively providing treatment and support to those in our society suffering from substance abuse and dependence, NSAD doubts whether the current National Drug Policy is actually working,” says Mr FitzGerald.

“I question whether the current policies of brief intervention and harm prevention will achieve better long-term health outcomes than a policy of matching treatment duration to the severity of the diagnosed condition.”

He says if the situation continues as it is, residential treatment will cease to exist. “This valuable option, that has been built up over many years, may prove impossible to replace.”

A pilot habilitation/residential programme, established by the Department of Corrections and run by NSAD, at its Aspell House facility in Wellington, was closed earlier this year and has not been replaced.

“However, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a necessary attribute for all who provide services in the Alcohol and Drug sector, and we have responded to the changed environment,” says Mr FitzGerald.

In place of the habilitation programme at Aspell House, NSAD, in conjunction with the Department of Corrections, established a Drug Free Unit within Arohata Women’s Prison, earlier this year.

“The success of this unit – a first for New Zealand – has confirmed the validity of this approach and replicates the very good results of similar programmes overseas. We hope to continue the provision of this programme and to establish similar Drug Free Units at other prisons,” says Mr FitzGerald.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Mr Terrence FitzGerald,
Chairman
National Society on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Tel: 04 385 1517
Mobile: 025 241 2101

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