Former P addict steps up to tackle Tairāwhiti rehab gap

updated By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

With no government funded methamphetamine rehabilitation centre on the Tairāwhiti, former addict Tricia Walsh is helping to fill the gap.

She holds workshops in rural East Coast communities to educate them about the dangers of P, a drug she says is plaguing the area.

"The amount of people using P now it's not epidemic it's endemic," explains Walsh.

"We've got rural communities up the coast where there's 1 in 3 people using methamphetamine and if you've got a population of 750 it's a third, 250 using methamphetamine."

Through her workshops she shares her story of the damaging effects of P and how it destroyed her family. 

"I had a habit of $1000 - $2000 a day I used to sell a pound of weed a day in tinnies so I could afford that and over time it slowly, that picture- it eroded, it was facade."

Jamie Reader also works alongside her, she was addicted to P for 15 years and shares her story of overcoming it.  She is now 160 days clean and counting.

"It can be done,"says Reader "there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

There are some drug and alcohol services available in the Gisborne area but P users have to go out of town for specialist help.

"Presently there is no rehab centre in Gisborne.  There is a waiting list to go out of town and at the moment they're overloaded with their own people," says Walsh.

The work she does aligns with other small community groups who are mobilising their community against the drug.