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'More help' needed for New Zealand's 25,000 P users

By Jessica Beresford

Published: 3:32PM Thursday May 23, 2013 Source: ONE News

More help needs to be given to the 25,000 people in New Zealand who are still long-term P users, the Drug Foundation says.

The latest Government report into tackling methamphetamine use in New Zealand was released today, which Prime Minister John Key said showed positive results.

"When the Government began this plan in 2009, New Zealand had one of the highest prevalence rates of P use in the world, with 2.1% of the population using the drug," said Key.

"The latest data shows this rate has more than halved to 0.9%. While this is positive, the reality is there are still around 25,000 longer-term, heavy users of the drug, who are locked in a cycle of dependence, causing misery and angst for them, their families and loved ones."

NZ Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said that while the progress was a significant improvement, the focus now needed to be on ensuring the large group still using the drug received treatment.

"What the last three years has shown us is that investing in addiction treatment and trying to sign post these people to get help brings some real benefit," he said.

"The big challenge now is, how do we get those 25,000 the right support so they can recover from that dependency?"

The report outlined a process for allocating money forfeited to the Crown under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, which has been earmarked to fund drug and alcohol rehabilitation initiatives, would be put in place later this year.

The number of treatment places available to prisoners with drug and alcohol problems has also increased to over 1000 since the end of last year.

Bell said a really positive thing about the plan was that new funding had gone into addiction treatment centres, rather than to police or customs.

"All around the world, when it comes to addressing a drug problem, governments have really only focussed on one side of that problem - which is trying to control the supply of the drug," he said.

Bell said many countries, including New Zealand, had woken up to the fact that investment into treatment centres saved money in the long run.

"We need to be put new resources into treating our drug problem as a health issue," he said.

Key said an expected $8 million would be initially available for the new initiatives, as well as for targeted law enforcement tools for customs and police.