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Anderton concerned at costs of untreated addiction

24 June 2001 Media Release

Anderton concerned at costs of untreated addiction

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton today said that Treatment Works Week is a good time to focus on addressing the drain on our community and economy from alcohol and drug addiction.

"People who are addicted to alcohol and drugs are often unable to fully contribute to our economy and instead create costs and problems to friends and family around them, as well as not being whole human beings themselves.

"New Zealand cannot afford to have a significant percentage of our population who are unable to actively contribute to our community. As well as the obvious social and human issues, this also has economic implications. A recent survey found that 83 per cent of prison inmates had a problem with either alcohol or drugs.

"The wood processing industry steering group which is working to create more jobs from the wall of wood that is maturing, has identified that worker alcohol and drug abuse is a major barrier to industry development.

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

"Every addict or alcoholic affects a lot of people around them. This problem touches most New Zealanders. Simply locking up or marginalising addicts and alcoholics won't work. We need instead to provide treatment options to help them to address their problems. We need to encourage them to come forward for help.

"I can't imagine people with an alcohol or drug problem saying as children that 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 help them 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," said Jim Anderton.

Treatment Works Week is to highlight "the value of prevention and treatment in reducing harm arising from the misuse of alcohol and other drugs". The week runs from 24 to 29 June and includes United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse on 26 June.

ENDS

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