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Launch of Treatment Works Week

24 June 2002
Hon Tariana Turia Speech Notes
12 noon

E nga iwi, e nga reo, huri noa i te whare nei, tena koutou katoa.

Members and supporters of the various alcohol and other drug treatment agencies, fellow MPs, our honoured guests, greetings.

We are here to support all those people who are grappling with alcohol and other drug problems, their families and loved ones, and the professionals and community workers who are involved in drug and alcohol treatment.

We live in a diverse society that uses all sorts of drugs in various ways, with a range of effects. Each person’s drug and alcohol use may have many causes, and recovery requires skilled and patient support.

Treatment may take many forms, from intensive therapy for severe addictions, to advice and counselling from professionals or trusted members of the whanau, and community support and self-help groups.

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

That’s why I am pleased to launch this week – Treatment Works Week.

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.

So the successes of treatment programmes are not widely recognised.

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

Success breeds success, people say. That is the aim of this week.

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

There have been rapid developments in our knowledge of physiology, bio-chemistry and genetics, which give us a wider range of treatments for severe addictions.

We also need strategies for reducing the risks of drug use, and the harm it does, through early interventions. And perhaps first and foremost, measures to prevent or minimise drug use in the first place.

The government’s approach embraces all three.

A recent report for the Alcohol Advisory Council underlines the important role of GPs in screening and early interventions to address problems with alcohol. It also identifies reasons why GPs do not do more, even though they would like to.

We must take this information on board, given the cost to society of alcohol abuse – estimated to be $2.9 billion in 1990.

The Ministry of Health is working with the Alcohol Drug Association to offer a Drug Helpline, similar to the existing Alcohol Helpline. This is a free nationwide telephone service, offering confidential information, advice and referrals for people with questions about their own drinking, or someone else's.

Early access to advice and support is basic to early intervention, which research tells us is effective.

The improved service makes sense. Many callers 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.

Drug use is a community problem, a whanau problem.

All of us share considerable costs already, whether we know it or not. If we can turn our effort into positive recognition and support for treatment, education and prevention programmes, we will all be much better off.

We must provide supportive networks around the people at the heart of the problem, and those close to them who are carrying the greatest burden.

I commend the approach taken by the network of agencies here today, and I am pleased to be able to help, by launching Treatment Works Week.

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