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Substance Abuse Treatment Services Inadequate

Substance Abuse Treatment Services Woefully Inadequate

“The national shortage of treatment services for those with drug and alcohol problems appears to be reaching crisis level,” said New Zealand First health spokesperson, Barbara Stewart.

“The Mental Health Commission is quoted as saying that it will be years before enough drug and alcohol treatment services exist to meet the demand created by young New Zealanders and there is also a shortage of treatment services for adults.

“The Commission is reviewing the Blueprint for Mental Health Services in New Zealand: How Things Need to Be which was published in 1998.

“However six years down the track we may need more than a review of an existing plan. If Wellington and Christchurch, two of our largest population centres, do not have adequate drug and alcohol treatment services for young people then it is fairly safe to assume that the situation is little better anywhere else.

“National treatment centres such as Hanmer were closed down in favour of a system where district health boards provided their own services in their area. The end result appears to be that we are spending more money every year - $739 million for mental health funding in the year to June 2003 - but getting less for it by way of services.

“Delegating responsibility to district health boards works well as a means of shifting responsibility but it is time the Minister of Health and her three Associate Ministers came up with some answers to the drug and alcohol treatment shortage before we reach crisis point,” said Mrs Stewart.

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