Topics: Education, Health

Further push for more rehab beds

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

The NZ Drug Foundation wants to alleviate the growing concern from mental health workers and families seeking rehabilitation services, but say more funding is needed to tackle rising requests for help. 

Executive Director, Ross Bell says the difficulties faced by the families of two drug users awaiting rehab highlights the need for the treatment budget to double.

"Fundamentally we have to rethink how New Zealanders deal with it's drug problem.  If we are serious about eliminating waiting lists, providing help for people when they put their hand up for it, then we have to start investing in treatment," said Bell.

The government spends $351mil on interventions and $78mil on health services.  According to the 2015 Tackling Methamphetamine Progress Report, only 17% users are in treatment. 34% of users reported barriers to finding help. Ross Bell is concerned about the 83% of users who aren't receiving treatment.

"50,000 New Zealanders every year need help for an alcohol or drug problem and they cant get that help.   We have long waiting lists. Three months, four months for people to access help."

This week, Te Kāea reported on a woman in a drug-induced state that went viral with over two million views online. She's now awaiting rehab at Higher Ground. In response to that story, an upset mother voiced her concerns for her son who's still waiting to enter treatment at Odyssey House after two months. Both Auckland services agree that more beds are needed.

Odyssey House CEO, Fiona Trevelyan said, "There's a good return on investment in terms of treatment, treatment works. So for every dollar you spend in treatment you're going to get $4 to $7 back in terms of health and other social outcomes."

"When someone put's their hand up for help and they're told we're going to stick you on a waiting list, there's a high chance that they're going to keep using drugs, keep causing all the problems that their drug use has," said Bell.

In a statement received from the Health Minister's office, the Director of Mental Health says the Prime Minister announced $15mil of funding from the proceeds of crime for anti-drug initiatives.  The funding also included $3mil for a joint project by Police and Health to reduce the demand for P in Northland. 

If you or anyone in you know is need of assistance please visit or contact any of the organisations listed below.

National helplines

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666