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Thursday, August 28, 2008

The drugs don't work

Waiting lists send addicts back to life of crime
Hard-drug addicts are lapsing into lives of crime and prostitution while waiting up to eight months to access "poorly resourced and overburdened" treatment programmes, experts say. A report from the National Addiction Centre, obtained exclusively by The Press, estimates that crime by opiate addicts awaiting treatment costs the country $286 million a year.
A 12-month course of addiction treatment with methadone costs about $5000. The report estimates that almost 10,000 New Zealanders, including 1429 in Christchurch, are daily dependent on opiates such as heroin, morphine, homebake and opium from poppies. About 4600 addicts are receiving methadone through opioid substitution treatment (OST) programmes, but demand far outweighs the resources available. Waiting lists were a "significant problem" and addicts had "considerable ambivalence" about seeking treatment. Addicts were waiting an average of 90.3 days between their first presentation and their first dose of methadone at New Zealand's 18 treatment centres. In Christchurch, non-priority addicts were waiting 94 days, with a 260-day wait in Otago (with interim methadone prescribing) and no service available on the West Coast because of a lack of resources. Ministry of Health guidelines recommend a four-week wait.

This is jaw droppingly stupid, it only costs $5000 for a years dose of methadone, yet almost half of addicts in NZ are not yet able to get on a programme and are turning to crime at a cost of $286 million a year! If we are serious about making sick people well rather than just sensible sentencing punishment then this situation can’t be defended, and making addicts wait up to 260 days when the recomendation is 4 weeks suggests a system that has no interest in being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, they've become a digger and are only making the drop deeper.


At 28/8/08 8:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with Bomber on much, but he has a point.

Drug dependence is a medical problem and current drug laws only compound these peoples problems and drive them to crime.

Legalise soft drugs and use the tax revenues to fund proper treatment for addicts of hard and soft drugs and education programs.

At 30/8/08 5:30 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could be costing four zillion dollars in crime, it wouldn't matter. It will always be bloody hard to get a mandate for buying druggies $5000 worth of drugs a year. The day NZ talkback listeners agree to that, is the day I expire from shock.

Most people (I'm backed up by compelling statistics here, naturally) don't see crime or drug use as a cost, they see it has a luxury - ultimately something people have a choice over. They do not see it as a disease. Imagine if any other common and troubling disease was as under-resourced.

It is going to take a lot more well-researched and publicised studies, and a lot more time and experience to make Mr and Mrs NZ think differently about addiction.

At 1/9/08 10:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Research the EVIDENCE dick head - swaping one drug for another you still have a useless adict, substance abuser.

This BS does not work, that has been known for over 30 years.


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