'It affected me deeply': Hinemoa Elder on Millie's meth addiction nightmare

Hinemoa Elder has spoken out about her daughter Millie Elder-Holmes' addiction to methamphetamine, saying it was a "profoundly painful process". 

Now working to make change within the mental health sector, Dr Elder opened up about the severity of what the family faced.  

"There were many times when I was fearful for her life," Dr Elder told The AM Show.  

"It was a profoundly painful process, seeing our daughter go through that. Addiction to meth is such an evil experience, not just for the person but for everyone around them." 

Millie was arrested in 2007 on charges of methamphetamine possession, and faced further drug charges in 2009, which were eventually dropped. She once revealed the addiction cost her $1000-a-day at its height. 

Dr Elder said although it got complicated at times, trusting in the strength of their relationship allowed them to fight her issues together. 

"There were certainly times when the thread of that connection felt very, very thin.

"The rock bed for me was I had to believe that our fundamental relationship was strong and that's what would get us through - and it did, in the end, from my perspective." 

Dr Elder said that she tried to keep Millie close, and being there for her daughter through the challenges was critical to her recovery. 

The former television presenter said that it is vital families support one another, especially in times of need. 

"Whānau is whānau, people behave badly, people do bad things, people become addicted, people become mentally unwell and really difficult to live with, and no matter what - the challenge is to hold onto those relationships, to hold on to the fact that we are whānau." 

As New Zealand's only child Maori psychiatrist, Dr Elder feels a huge responsibility to help turn around the country's dire mental health statistics. 

Having seen first-hand Millie's experience with substance abuse, Dr Elder says she now has an understanding which allows her to relate to others in similar circumstances. 

"I suppose one of the things that it has done, is I can relate to whānau and whānau can relate to me because they know that I've been there. 

"I can have incredibly frank discussions with whānau from that perspective."