A recovering meth addict has made an emotional plea to young people to stay away from drugs. It comes on the opening day of new treatment facilities at a rehabilitation centre in west Auckland. "It just destroys so much, it takes so much away from you." Melissa started using meth when she was 16. She never thought it would turn into a near 20 year addiction. "I was doing crime to support my habit. It destroyed my life, it made me a person that I didn't even know who I was. Her $800 a day habit lost her her family and her daughter. She underwent a treatment programme at Higher Ground in Te Atatu Peninsula and, now clean, she's putting her life back together. Today they celebrated the opening of a new extension, for an expanding problem. "We find now that 70 percent of our population is methamphetamine addicted that come through treatment here." says Director Johnny Dow. Around 160 addicts undergo its 18 week treatment programme each year, costing $40,000 per person, but he says that's money well invested. "They will save so much money in people not going to prison and the social costs are really, really high." Eight beds in the facility are funded by the Prime Minister's methamphetamine initiative, enabling extra rehabilitation treatment for around 30 people per year, but still there's a four month waiting list to get in. Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court Judge Aitken wants to see more of the money spent on prison beds, being invested in treatment beds. "What we have are a lot of people waiting in prison for a treatment bed to become available," says Judge Aitken. "The sooner you get offenders into treatment the better the chance they'll stay in treatment, and therefore the better the chance you'll get recovery, and that means reducing reoffending, reducing victim numbers, reducing costs." For Melissa the message is simple, don't get into drugs in the first place. "Just stay away from it, it's not worth it, it's not worth it. It really isn't. It destroys so much."
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