19 Oct 2016

$3 million plan to tackle Northland's meth problem

10:35 am on 19 October 2016

Police and health authorities in Northland are to work together in a $3 million pilot programme to tackle the region's methamphetamine issues.

Nearly $15 million seized from criminals will fund 15 different initiatives throughout the country to tackle drug abuse, with a focus on methamphetamine.

In Northland, $3 million will pay for eight more police officers, and new addiction and community services.


The pilot programme will focus on methamphetamine. Photo: 123RF

Northland District Health Board (DHB) mental health services general manager Ian McKenzie said it made sense for the DHB and police to align their efforts in enforcement and treatment.

He said hospital admissions for mental illness involving meth use had risen 20 percent in the past five years.

"We can visit people in the cells, we can work in prisons.

"We'd prefer to find a way that people could get their health response, and that might then mitigate the criminal process being all about turning people into criminals, when in many ways their P-use is the health issue we want to address."

Dr Chamberlain said a major barrier for recovering meth-users was the absence of a stable living environment that supports abstinence.

He said the pilot programme would offer those people support, from residential treatment to independent living, over several months.