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Research a gross waste of time and money

Media Release:
20th October 2008

Research a gross waste of time and money

The results of a 30-year study published on Friday show that it's not just bad kids who do drugs; that drugs are just as likely to make normal kids who do not come from at-risk families, bad, and that early substance abuse does lead to significant problems in future life.

For Sensible Sentencing Spokesperson on Drug Issues, the most spectacular aspect of this revelation is that parents who have normal kids who have dabbled in drugs have known this all along, and have been unable to get the help they have asked for when these 'significant problems' arise.

Christine Davey says “It is now apparent that one of the most popular 3rd form options in NZ 's High School's is marijuana. By the time parents realise that their teenage child's rebellious behaviour stems from this, the damage has been done – and despite 'evidence' to the contrary, a teenage marijuana habit too often does lead to harder drugs, because the concept of chemical relief has been established.

It's at this stage that the parents go seeking help to intervene in their child's drug habit – after all, use of marijuana and P is illegal. This is when parents learn that the Police are not interested, and counsellors tell them that the drug user can't be helped until they decide they want to stop.

So all the parents can do is stand back and watch their kids destroy their lives, often collecting Police convictions and children of their own along the way. If they're lucky, they will “hit the bottom” and realise they need help BEFORE they hurt themselves or someone else. Too often, this is not the case.

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One of the tragedies of this situation is that it IS possible to recover from drug use – but if left until the User seeks help, recovery is extremely difficult. With all the knowledge available now about the effect marijuana has on the developing brain (i.e under 20 year-olds) and how quickly one can become addicted to “P”, drug use must be classified as a mental health issue and appropriate treatment and rehabilitation given, sooner rather than later.

NZ has been identified as one of the worst countries in the world for drug use; the Drug Harm Index tells us that drug use cost NZ $1.3 billion in 2005 / 2006, and this Government is spending $1 million per week in benefits for drug and alcohol users whose condition makes them unable to work. For very many of those beneficiaries, somewhere there is a family who has had the heart ripped out of it.

To add insult to injury, CYF will not listen to Grandparents who are concerned for the welfare of their grandchildren, knowing that one of the parents has impaired judgement due to drug use. Peter Hughes, CEO of CYF, states that “parents have the right to raise their children in the manner of their choosing unless they cross a line of unacceptability.” One of the reasons NZ has such a high rate of child abuse and death, must surely be that CYF places that line too high. If ANY child's caregiver is a known drug-user, they must not be allowed to care for children. This is in line with the Care of Children Act 2004 which makes the “welfare of the child the most important priority”, and shifts the focus away from parents' “rights”, towards parents' “responsibilities” for their children.

Can we expect that now that parents' concerns have been confirmed by the findings of this research, that a NZ Government will recognise that the current Harm Minimisation Policy must be removed, and intervention processes put in place to prevent the potential of our future generations being further destroyed?

If not, then it would appear that the funding of 30-years of research has indeed been a gross waste of time and money.”


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