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Drug Treatment Unit marks milestone

News Release

For immediate release 29 May 2014

Drug Treatment Unit marks milestone

Otago Corrections Facility’s Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated the graduation of its 50th Drug and Alcohol Programme on Friday, 23 May. The ceremony was attended by graduates of the programme, Corrections and CareNZ staff as well as Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson and Kathryn Leafe, CEO CareNZ.

The DTU, which is operated by national treatment provider CareNZ in conjunction with the Department of Corrections, supports prisoners to address their alcohol and drug issues. It provides participants with the skills to help maintain positive behavioural changes upon release back into the community.

“The 50th graduation in our DTU at Otago Corrections Facility is not only a great achievement for the participants, but also for us as a treatment provider,’ says Kathryn Leafe, CEO of CareNZ. ‘The success shows us that the programme helps prisoners to make changes and address their alcohol and drug use and offending – for the benefit of themselves, their whānau and the community.”

In total 536 prisoners have graduated from the DTU’s three month rehabilitation programme since it was opened in 2010.

“This is a significant milestone for Corrections, the prisoners graduating and for the community,” says Jack Harrison, Prison Manager Otago Corrections Facility.

“By tackling drug and alcohol abuse, we’re giving people a shot at a better life, and in turn we’re giving the people of New Zealand a better community to live in.”

Operating as a Therapeutic Community, the DTU is a separate unit away from the mainstream prison and provides a supportive and caring environment for the prisoners. The community (i.e. prisoners) and staff work together to establish an environment in which participants feel safe to address their own issues, provide support and motivate others. The programme is supported by the use of mentors, who themselves are graduates of the DTU.

Through structured group work, social skills training and therapy groups the treatment programme addresses factors that influence participants’ alcohol and drug use. Prisoners who have successfully completed a course in the DTU gain the skills and techniques that will aid them in remaining alcohol and drug free and in recognising trigger points in their lives that could cause them to relapse.

Graduating from the programme in the DTU is an important step for the participants and gives them hope for a new start after their release. One of the graduates commented:

“Through the DTU course I was given so much help and support with understanding and altering my values and beliefs. The course changes the way you think around your addiction and makes it clear that with help you can become a better person in yourself,” says Tony (not his real name).

More than 50% of crime in New Zealand is committed by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol and two-thirds of prisoners have substance abuse problems. Providing increased alcohol and drug treatment is one of the ways the Department aims to reduce re-offending by 25% by 2017.

Research into the effectiveness of the Drug Treatment Units has shown that people who have been through the drug treatment programmes commit less crime and once people have tackled their addictions they can also be motivated to complete other essential rehabilitation programmes.

There are strict criteria for entry to the programme; most importantly prisoners must acknowledge that they have an addiction and be motivated to make a change in their lives.

There are nine specialist Drug Treatment Units around the country. CareNZ has worked alongside the Department of Corrections in facilitating Drug Treatment Units across New Zealand since 1997, when the first DTU in Arohata Prison was opened.

There is also a range of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and intervention programmes offered to offenders on community sentences.

Corrections is committed to reducing reoffending by 25% by 2017. A strategy to achieve this goal is expanding available drug and alcohol initiatives. This will mean, by 2017:

• 4,000 more prisoners a year in expanded alcohol and drug programmes

• 1,200 prisoners a year receiving brief alcohol and drug interventions from health staff

• 5,800 more community offenders a year receiving externally provided alcohol and drug programmes

• 22,000 community offenders a year receiving brief alcohol and drug interventions from probation officers

ENDS

About CareNZ:

CareNZ provides a range of interventions and services to address the harms caused by alcohol and drugs. These range from low threshold advice, information and advocacy based services, to assessment, care co-ordination, individual counselling, group therapy and high care residential services including therapeutic communities.

We operate services on 17 sites across New Zealand, in the community and in prisons. Last year, our 140 staff assisted over 7,000 clients.

CareNZ is currently operating eight prison-based Drug Treatment Units across the country: Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Waikeria Prison, Whanganui Prison, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, Rimutaka Prison, Arohata Prison, Christchurch Men’s Prison and Otago Corrections Facility.

For more information please visit www.carenz.co.nz

Media Contact: 027 530 1581

Department of Corrections – Further information:

The Minister of Corrections recently released a media release about an increase in drug and alcohol treatment for prisoners: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/massive-rise-prisoner-drug-and-alcohol-treatment.

For more information about drug and alcohol treatment please see our website: http://www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/tackling_alcohol_and_drug_abuse.html.


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