Help available for addiction

ADDICTION help is available for those who feel that they need it.

A UNIVERSITY study has found the Bay of Plenty is one of three regions in the North Island where there is the most need for help for people with substance abuse problems.

However, the Bay has a range of facilities for those who need help, say health authorities.

The online New Zealand Drug Trends Survey was conducted by Massey University’s SHORE and Whariki Research Centre and found higher levels of methamphetamine and cannabis dependency, and the need for help for substance abuse, including alcohol, in the eastern, northern and central regions of the North Island.

The proportion of respondents who reported needing either “a lot” or “some” help was highest in the Bay of Plenty (16 percent), Manawatu-Wanganui (16 percent) and Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay (15 percent) regions.

A total of 6100 people completed the recent study.

The university bulletin is the second in a series, which focuses on different levels of drug dependency and need for help for substance use problems found around the country.

Detailed analysis has been presented to the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.

The first bulletin found higher levels of methamphetamine and cannabis dependency in the Bay of Plenty, the Waikato, Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and Manawatu/Wanganui regions.

Bay authorities working with people who have addiction issues say they believe most respondents who have asked for help would probably be those with an alcohol rather than a drug addiction.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board adult community mental health and addiction service manager Hester Hattingh said the question “how much help do you think you need?” was asked of all respondents who had reported alcohol or drug use in the past six months, rather than just focusing on drug-users.

“We would expect that the majority of respondents to this question were those who had used alcohol, as it is by far the most commonly used substance,” she said.

“And while the Bay (together with two other regions) had the highest proportion of those who responded saying that they needed ‘a lot of help’ to reduce their use, the report does not further unpack this to consider what factors those respondents consider they actually need help with.

“Is it help with housing, with poverty and other social pressures or with addictions treatment?

“All of these are likely to be relevant factors.

“In the Bay of Plenty we have seen, for example, increases in issues like homelessness in recent years, which may be one important factor for the slightly higher reporting from our region.”

Ms Hattingh said for those who considered that they needed structured support there were easily accessible DHB and NGO community-based service providers.

“There is also access to a range of residential rehab facilities. Community treatment services can arrange access to a range of these facilities in Hamilton, Rotorua, Auckland and Napier.

“Help is available at an appropriate level for those who feel that they most need it.”