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New Drug Helpline Planned

24 June 2002

The Associate Minister of Health, Hon Tariana Turia, announced today that the Ministry of Health is working with the Alcohol Drug Association to offer a Drug Helpline, similar to the existing Alcohol Helpline.

“The drug helpline will be a free nationwide telephone service, offering confidential information, advice and referrals for people with questions about their own drug use, or someone else's,” said Tariana Turia.

“Early access to advice and support is basic to early intervention, which research tells us is effective. The telephone service will refer callers to local sources of support and assistance.

“The new service makes sense. Many callers to the alcohol helpline want information about drugs other than alcohol, and the resources and interventions used by the brief intervention counsellors and Helpliners are generic to substance use,” she said.

Tariana Turia was speaking at the launch of Treatment Works Week, which celebrates the success of alcohol and drug treatment programmes.

“Treatment programmes do save lives, they do help to cut crime and illness, and they are cost-effective,” she said.

“But there is a paradox underlying the celebration of this week.

“The very success of treatment programmes may be a non-event – a gruesome headline that is not published, a budget that’s not blown out, a life not spent behind bars, a family that does not fall apart,” said Mrs Turia.

“So the success of treatment programmes is not widely recognised.”

“Our task this week, and every week, is to bring a balance to the picture by acknowledging and celebrating everyday achievements.

“By celebrating success, we promote successful programmes. The more people know about them, the more likely they are to participate and support them,” said Tariana Turia.

Details of the new drug helpline will be released when negotiations are concluded.

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