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Launch of Treatment Works week- Anderton Speech

Hon Jim Anderton
24 June 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of Treatment Works week

Centra Hotel
Cashel Street
Christchurch
11 am Sunday

Mayor Garry Moore, Lianne Dalziel, Professor Andrew Hornblow, Organisers of Treatment works, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to launch Treatment Works week and support promotion of alcohol and drug treatment options.

People here today are aware of the extent of the costs and issues arising from alcohol and drug addiction in New Zealand.

New Zealanders are now reasonably aware of the effects of drunk driving.

Most people recognise links between domestic violence and drug and alcohol misuse.

It is generally understood that smoking has a significant cost in terms of negative health effects and loss of life.

People are less aware, however, of the full extent of the costs to our community for example the cost of crimes committed by people financing drug habits.

The Treatment Works Week kit tells us that:
 Well known economist Brian Easton estimated the costs of alcohol abuse in 1990 to be approximately $2.9 billion.
 Easton's study says the cost of smoking to the New Zealand community for the same year was $1.2 billion.
 These cost estimates are based upon a range of drug related harms including premature death, lost productivity, reduced working efficiency, excess unemployment, increased hospital and other health costs as well as increased law enforcement.
 Research in Christchurch found that people on waiting lists for methadone treatment have to each raise $1000 per week to support their drug dependence.
 It was estimated that prior to treatment one Christchurch treatment centre’s clients had cost New Zealand 2.8 million in terms of court and prison costs, benefits, medical costs, motor vehicle accidents and costs associated to their criminal activity. The cost of treating these clients was $828,000.

Our prisons are full of people with alcohol and drug problems.

A recent survey found that 83 per cent of inmates in New Zealand prisons had a problem with either alcohol or drugs.

My colleague Matt Robson announced in the recent government budget, new assessment and treatment programmes for alcohol and substance abuse. The most successful drug and alcohol programmes in prisons and in the community reduce re-offending in the high risk group of multiple offenders by a third.

There is a link between youth suicide and drug and alcohol addiction.

Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harré announced $1.673 million in the budget to help address this issue.

There are other costs to our community.

As Minister for economic, regional and industry development I have visited most regions and communities in New Zealand.

My role is to maximise jobs, business growth, industry and regional opportunities. This will benefit all New Zealanders.

There are issues which prevent us reaching our full potential. A significant problem is literacy and numeracy.

I never thought economic development would include helping adults to learn to read.

People who can't read can't be trained for high skilled work.

In the Budget I announced $500,000 for adult literacy programmes.

I know that in the same way that the ability to read is a brake on our economic development so is drug and alcohol addiction.

Some estimates say ten per cent of New Zealanders have an addiction problem of some kind. What is known is that every addict or alcoholic affects a lot of people around them. This problem touches most New Zealanders.

New Zealand cannot afford to have a significant percentage of our population who are unable to fully contribute to our community. This has social as well as economic implications.

I initiated the wood processing industry steering group which is working to create more jobs from the wall of wood that is maturing. Representatives from this group have identified that worker alcohol and drug abuse is a major barrier to the development of the industry.

Forestry companies and the industry are currently developing programmes to help workers accept and address their problems.

In all industries and endeavours we have to make this country the best it can be.

One of the problems has been we put more money and effort into trying to fix the consequences rather than addressing the problems before they have consequences.

We need to spend as much of our time and government effort to creating sustainable, satisfying jobs as we do to ensuring there is a social security safety net.

Rather than locking away or marginalising addicts and alcoholics, we need to provide treatment options to help them to address their problems. They can then contribute to New Zealand.

We need to encourage people with alcohol and drug problems to come forward for help.

I don't fully understand the mind of an alcoholic or addict but I can bet that very few of them as children said they wanted to grow up to be alcohol or drug dependent.

There is a strong element of addictive illness involved and we, as a community, need to address this.

Successful responses to addiction can reduce health and corrections costs, reduce crime and most importantly save lives.

The work of the agencies and groups involved in Treatment Works week is excellent and needs to be supported and applauded.

The sort of country I want our kids to inherit is one where every New Zealander has the opportunity to develop their talents to the full.

An important part of this is overcoming issues such as addiction.

This week and the work of all of you again focuses our minds on this much misunderstood and underestimated problem.

I welcome the start of Treatment Works week and wish you well for your invaluable work.

Thank you.
ends

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