dapaanz: Government’s Meth Proposals Out of Balance
Government’s methamphetamine proposals out of balance, says dapaanz
Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa–New Zealand (dapaanz)
The Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association Aotearoa–New Zealand (dapaanz) says the government’s proposed package to deal with methamphetamine addiction in New Zealand is out of balance and shows it still has its thinking wrong on drug harm reduction.
Dapaanz Executive Director Sue Paton said it’s great to see more resources being promised to tackle methamphetamine, but that the government still seems to think it can punish the problem away.
“It’s a shame that unfortunate comments about human rights have distracted from the proposed investment into education and treatment for people addicted to methamphetamine. But it’s also a shame that more than half of the $82 million set aside ($42 million) will be spent on enforcement.
“This is out of balance with our government’s own National Drug Policy which stresses innovation, proportionality and compassion over outdated war on drugs thinking, and it’s completely out of accord with what we know works.”
Ms Paton said experts in the drug treatment sector have been telling the government for years that the best way to reduce the supply of any drug is to reduce demand for it, and the only way to do that is to support people to come off their addiction.
“Education, treatment and more rehab beds will help with that. Harsher penalties, cancelling benefits, more drug dogs and entering people’s houses without a warrant will not. Even the government’s own advisors and the police are saying we can't arrest our way out of this problem.”
Ms Paton said people with an addiction were often caught between a rock and a hard place. They want to stop, but fear coming forward because they might be treated like criminals. But when they finally do put their hands up for help they find there’s no treatment available or that they have to wait three months.
“The education and new treatment places promised will help, but will still only be scratching the surface of what needs to be done.Dapaanz would like to see much more, if not all, of that $82 million put towards treatment. It’s the only thing that will make a real difference in reducing drug harm.
“Countries like Portugal and Holland have been taking this approach in recent years and their rates of drug use, drug-related crime and their prison musters have plummeted as a result – so what drug treatment experts in New Zealand are saying has been proven overseas.”
Ms Paton says it takes courage to try something new, but that’s why our National Drug Policy talks about innovation.
“There’s a glimmer of hope in the government’s new proposal to increase education and treatment. Let’s focus on that and what the experts are saying instead of people having fewer human rights or becoming harsher as a society. Let’s stick with our National Drug Policy of innovation, proportionality and compassion because that’s what will truly work.”