What does it take to quit a meth addiction?

  • 27/07/2018

Addiction counsellor Diane Robinson says:  "The meth problem is huge, it's across every strata of society, every age group, it's readily available."

It's only getting worse. Ms Robinson says it's the first drug that is starting to catch up with alcohol in terms of the damage done to families and society.

In Auckland alone last year, Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) had 2,500 people seeking treatment.

It's easy for people to get hooked on the drug because of the speed of its effects.

"With meth addiction it's the speed of the addiction, because the quicker the hit with a drug the quicker the addiction, with meth you get a hit really quick and it's very powerful and it lasts a while," says Ms Robinson.

Tauera has been a junkie for most of his life. It took 48 admissions into detox, and 19 visits to rehab before he finally kicked the habit for good.

"Giving up is a piece of piss, that's no drama at all - where the drama is is changing your mindset. An addictive mind will stay there a hell of a lot longer than the physical symptoms of addiction," he told The Project.

CADS clinical psychologist Dr Virginia Farnsworth-Grodd says "It's .not something that you can be treated for stop and stay stopped. The staying stopped is the hardest part."

So the fix is a slow and steady one. Giving up goes in stages, you don't have to go cold turkey. Unlike with heroin, there's no methadone programme.

"There's no drug actually currently available that can assist or replace safely the use of meth," Dr Farnsworth-Grodd said.

What does treatment for meth addiction look like?

"There's one example of a professional man in his 50s. He came to us having started meth use in his 50s. He ended up losing his job," says Dr Farnsworth-Grodd.

"He started in with our groups and individual counselling, and moved into our CADS abstinence group, a more intense programme. His journey of treatment was two years."

Like many other addictions, the problem doesn't disappear completely.

"We're always going to be in recovery, we're one pipe away from a thousand pipes you know?" says Tauera.

But with support, comes hope - that one day it can be eradicated for good.

Ms Robinson says the drug problem has come into our society over a couple of generations, and it might take that long to get it out.

Anti-P Ministry founder Brendon Warne works with social worker Fiona Watson and NZ 'P' Pull on a shared goal to eradicate meth addiction in New Zealand.

"We're not going to judge them, as addicts speaking to addicts," Mr Warne says.

"A lot of gangs have seen that it's bad themselves so they want it out of their clubs."

Mr Warne says he cares so much about the issue because he's part of the problem.

"I've come from a background where I've tried P and I've dabbled in it and I've got hooked on it and I've created problems for my family and families round me all across the country. I own that...we're going to fight this to the end, till my last breath."

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says P is like "inviting hell into your own home" and it is "a plague across the country".

"The speed with which you get hooked is sometimes on a single use. I think we've got to put far more resources into not just counselling but treatment and what have you."

He says putting people in prison isn't a solution because the country can't afford it, at about $100,00 per prisoner each year.

"We need to put far more resources in like other countries do, and spend far more money to get to parents in particular to ensure children and young people don't get on it."


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