Drug Foundation calls for health-based holistic approach to tackle methamphetamine problem

The Drug Foundation is calling for a more health-based holistic approach to tackling New Zealand's methamphetamine problem.

It says the Government spends four times as much on ineffective drug law enforcement than it spends on measures that actually prevent drug harm.

"Methamphetamine is an ugly, ugly drug," Survivor Annwyn Carter-Kelly said.  

"It has destroyed my family."

Carter-Kelly's son started using from the age of 13 and it's been an at times terrifying 20-year journey, realising just how bad his addiction was and having to remove his children.

He ended up in ED following an overdose. Then Carter-Kelly got the help she needed.

"As a parent of a drug addict child, you just think it's your fault. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? How can I fix this?" Carter-Kelly said. "And the five-step programme gave me those answers and changed my life."

Wastewater testing shows, per capita, Northland has the highest consumption of methamphetamine.

Te Ara Oranga is a Northland-based programme that works to reduce demand for meth by providing health and social support.

"It's been trialled overseas in Australia and in New Zealand and shown success.  It's evidence-based practice that actually this type of treatment works for people with that type of addiction," Te Ara Oranga board member Richard Dick said.

A report found that for those referred to the programme criminal offending was reduced by 34 percent.

And the Drug Foundation wants it to be funded nationwide.

"It would cost about $40-45 million to roll it out properly around the country, it's return on investment would be at least three times that. Amazing," Drug Foundation Executive Director Sarah Helm said.

Helm said too much money goes on failed approaches.

"We need to stop waiting until somebody needs hospital-level care treatment, or turns up in a cell before we offer them help," Helm said.

It took 15 years for Carter-Kelly to get the help her family needed, she says it's still early days but her son's now been clean for two years.

"The kids are enjoying seeing Dad again and I'm really proud of him how far he's come and yeah, I'm excited for the future."

She says Te Ara Oranga five steps programme saved her and she wants it made available to any family affected by addiction.