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Jim Anderton Addresses Addiction Aftercare Service

Jim Anderton Addresses Addiction Aftercare Service

Jim Anderton celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Te Awhina Aftercare Service in Christchurch tonight with a speech on addiction and a drug policy which included and understood the problems of addiction. He paid tribute to those on the frontline and said they were making a significant difference for people with substance-use related problems.

"I have met brave small communities shattered by illegal drug trade. I have met parents who despaired of how they would find motivation and a future for their young. I have met forestry companies who couldn't find enough skilled staff while young people were getting stoned all day. I have met mental health professionals and police who talked about picking up the pieces. I looked at facts that told me four percent of 15-17 year olds were regular users of marijuana.

"And as bad as illicit drugs are, I looked at the storm of damage caused by alcohol abuse. Alcohol is New Zealand's biggest drug problem - mostly because it is our only legal recreational drug. But the scale of its damage dwarfs all others. Anyone who looks at the damage would be persuaded of the need for action.

"What's changed between the past and the present is we are taking all of these issues seriously. So instead of starving the strategy of resources and leadership, this government recognised the need for a minister to give leadership and the need for resources to give it some real oomph. We have to recognise and accept we won't be free from drugs but be prepared to do whatever we can to educate, treat and enforce.

"And so the reason we come here to celebrate today is to celebrate the contribution Te Awhina has made for a decade now. This is an occasion to say thank you. Te Awhina also provides pre-treatment. Early intervention is better than engaging in intensive longer-term treatment. The role of professionals dealing with addiction recovery is to support people to make their own positive lifestyle choices.

"I know the dedicated staff and community of this centre are acutely aware of the urgency of our mission. We so often focus on problems and hardships. But this centre is a reminder that very good work is being done and we are making a difference as a community. I look forward to Te Awhina's continuing success and wish all of you the very best for the years to come", Jim Anderton said in Christchurch tonight.


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