Topic: Environment

Much higher use of methamphetamine in Northland

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

New data evidence collected from the Whangarei wastewater system shows a much higher use of methamphetamine in Northland than in Auckland and Christchurch. The information will be used by the police in partnership with the Northland District Health Board to help curb the demand for meth demand. 

The police say they're not surprised by the results of tests which provide a cost-effective timely non-intrusive and accurate measure of illegal drug use.

District Police Commander Russell Le Prou said, "Its shown us enough to know that we've got a Northland wide issue so we're focussed on Northland, not just Whangarei. Yes, the wastewater might be just Whangarei but I think it tells us enough to know that its endemic in our community and that we need to do something different to address that."

The new data is part of the Te Ara Oranga partnership bringing a wide range of strategies and services to the fore to rid Northland of its p epidemic.

Ian McKenzie is the General Manager of Northlands' Mental Health Addiction Services, "We haven't done analysis we don't know why its higher than other parts of the country. We've only got three comparatives here I guess we're focussed very much on the population here and the need which we know is significant!"

Addiction nurse Jewel Reti says a key focus is removing the barriers to treatment, "We need to engage people who are using meth so one of the things is our response is 24 hours. So we receive a referral, within 24 hours we contact that client to offer them support."

Te Ara Oranga was launched late last year in response to the host of negative outcomes caused by p throughout Northland communities with the police adopting a compassionate approach to dealing with the issue. Russell Le Prou says, "It's not necessarily just about enforcement for the police it is actually about connecting to those users and we'll give you a pathway to treatment."

The pilot programme has funding for two years.