Pregnant mothers addicted to meth

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Social and community workers on the ground in Gisborne say the scourge of meth is seeing a rise in pregnant mothers who are addicted to methamphetamine.

They say a centre to help rehabilitate all 'P' addicts regardless of each individual situation is desperately needed in their area. 

"We also have a number of babies that are being uplifted at birth because their mothers are using," says Dreena Hawea, who is an alcohol and drug counsellor at Hauora Tairāwhiti.

She has had to teach at least nine mothers last year about the full implications of taking drugs while pregnant and while breastfeeding.

"As long as they agree to have hair follicle tests and go through that process and they can prove that they're clean, it's still a two-year process to get their children back," she says.

With no detox facility in Gisborne, treatment can be difficult.

"We need rehabs.  We seriously need to invest in rehabs in detox centres and rehabs down in Gisborne here.  That is what we're calling for because every time there is a bust we've got people here that are reaching out for support," says Tuta Ngarimu, manager at Ka Pai Kaiti.

Though there is help available it's outside of the area, which Ngarimu says is a major obstacle.

"There are so many barriers around our people here in Tairāwhiti getting support.  One of them is that they have to leave our area to Auckland and Hamilton, Rotorua to get support and that's a barrier in itself," he says.

"I work in secondary services and we have a quite big waiting list.  People can be waiting up to a month before they can get service. 

"We only have up to seven counsellors and so people get hōha with waiting so they don't bother and when you try and engage with them they've already relapsed back to high-use again," says Hawea.