Labour's legacy – a P Pandemic
The NZ community is ready and willing to fight P, but we need to be given the tools to do this.
7th September 2009
Labour's legacy – a P Pandemic
The National Committee for Addiction Treatment (NCAT) has officially revealed what many NZers have worked out for themselves, but what this Government fails to recognise and address – that NZ's addiction problems are fast approaching pandemic level.
Christine Davey, Sensible Sentencing Spokesperson on Drug Issues welcomes this report, but has little hope that the current Government will change its stance on P.
Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor says the Government has responded by increasing its spending on this issue from $65 million in 2001 to $94m last year – but Ms Davey points out that the majority of this has been directed at getting drug-related cases through the Court system faster, and building more jails to house drug-addicted criminals. Millions are being spent on providing Treatment facilities in the jails “for those who want treatment” - but there are huge waiting lists for the very few places available in the community for those who want treatment before they commit crimes.
National Health Spokesman Tony Ryall has stated that “National recognises it as an issue, particularly for families of drug-affected young people, and would address it in its health policy.” Ms Davey says that sounds promising, but until National releases their Policies, we have no idea of knowing how far they're prepared to go on this issue.
NCAT has implored the Government to spend money on treatment instead of prisons, citing overseas studies which prove that treating addicts before they become criminals is cheaper and more effective. Ms Davey goes further by asking for better education by way of hard-hitting anti-drug ads running alongside the anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol ads, promotion of abstinence instead of Harm Minimisation, and the ability to intervene in illegal drug use if it does happen within our families.
She says “The NZ community is ready and willing to fight P, but we need to be given the tools to do this. The social and financial benefits of successful intervention will be seen in the reduction of crime and abuse, fewer dysfunctional families, time and money saved on Courts and Prisons, and a reduction in demand leading to a slowing down of supply.”
Ms Davey agrees there will always be drugs, and people willing to try them, but says this should not be accepted as a lifestyle choice with Government advice on how to do it 'safely'. She points out that psychoactive drugs destroy the minds of the children we spend years nurturing, and in too many cases the next generation is now growing up with this as a normal part of their life.
Ms Davey implores whichever Party becomes the next Government to look seriously at how mis-use of both alcohol AND drugs affects the user and their families, and provide us with real solutions for this very real problem, which is seeing our families torn apart and helpless to do anything about it.