Teen addicts wait for treatment
Some teenagers in the top of the south with substance abuse problems are having to wait more than three weeks to receive treatment for their addictions.
Last year 16 teenagers in Marlborough were referred to addiction services, 11 of which were referrals through the police or the Ministry of Justice.
Of those, three teenagers were not seen within three weeks of referral, and two were not seen for more than eight weeks.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services manager Eileen Varley said while there was ongoing demand for addiction services, if someone was in urgent need of treatment the team would do what they could to see them as soon as possible.
‘‘If you rang and said ‘hey I have got a daughter who has got a methamphetamine problem and she is really acting out’, we would do our best to see you and your daughter straight away.’’
The Ministry of Health expectation was that 80 per cent of people were seen within three weeks of referral, and 95 per cent within eight weeks.
In the Nelson Marlborough district, 79 teenagers were referred last year. Of those, 74.7 per cent of teenagers were seen within three weeks, and 93.7 per cent within eight weeks.
But five patients across the top of the south waited more than eight weeks for addiction treatment. The median wait time was seven days.
Varley said people who made an appointment but did not attend or could not be contacted put stress on the waiting list.
While there were many reasons people did not attend appointments, one of the barriers for some was a fear of admitting their use of an illegal substance.
But Varley said health information remained confidential.
It was also important people realised that there was no ‘‘quick fix’’ for addiction.
‘‘At your first assessment, it mightn’t be that you stop straight away, it is the whole process of getting people to cut back.
‘‘Sometimes it takes three or four goes to stop, it is a process that they go through.’’
While there was a growing number of presentations for methamphetamine use, Varley said the abuse of alcohol remained the biggest problem for both teenagers and adults in the region. The addictions team would do a comprehensive assessment to find out what was behind the addiction. ’’ We try not to make too much of a scene about the substance they are using and we look at working with them to build back their self esteem.’’
The youth alcohol and drug team worked with guidance counsellors and students in schools, ’’whoever we need to work with to get them to a stage where it is no longer an issue for them’’, Varley said.
However, addiction counsellor John McCaughtry said the growth in the level of substance abuse led him to start Silas House, a not-forprofit social detox and addiction education organisation in Nelson.
McCaughtry said he had noticed a growth in the level of substance abuse and there was a ‘‘critical’’ need for drug and alcohol treatment in Nelson.
It offered an eight-week education programme, as well as programmes after work and during the weekend, aimed at giving addicts the tools they needed to stay clean. Silas House only offered services for adults, but McCaughtry said he was recently contacted by organisations and schools after the same education for teenagers.
He said there was ‘‘huge demand’’ for addiction treatment services.
‘‘I don’t think waiting is doing any good, it is the waiting that makes things linger.
‘‘It grows and just becomes a bigger problem.’’
Silas House project manager Brad Rennell, left, with clinical director John McCaughtry and administration manager Kendal Johnson in Silas House in Nelson.