Teen ad­dicts wait for treat­ment

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - SA­MAN­THA GEE

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.

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