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Govt Handling Of Teen Drug Problems A Shambles

Friday 11 Jan 2002

ACT Youth Affairs Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today that the Government's handling of teenage drug abuse problems was a shambles.

"Clearly the left hand of the Government doesn't know what the right hand is doing. On the one hand we have the closure of the Hanmer Springs adolescent residential treatment facility - while at the same time a pilot teenage drug crimes court is beginning. Overseas experience shows that the teenagers in this court will be directed into residential care - and yet all residential beds are full and there are waiting lists.

"There seems to be an obvious conflict between the ideology of the Ministry of Health - which believes in educating addicts to minimise harm, through such things as needle exchanges - with the operations such as that at Hanmer which have an agenda to actually stop the habit.

"Surely all parents would want their kids off the drugs, rather than follow the Ministry's approach which appears more likely to keep them dependent.

"We need urgently to re-examine resources that are put into our alcohol and drug treatment programmes. In Australia about 50 percent of mental health money is used for programmes, while in New Zealand the figure is just 10 percent.

"The Government's current muddled approach is likely to see our youth drug problems become even more severe," Dr Newman said.


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