Chil­dren share ‘P’ bur­den

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - KATY JONES

It was a con­ver­sa­tion among kids that made for grim lis­ten­ing.

‘‘I got re­ally de­pressed, and iso­lated my­self, the drugs took away my brothers’ hu­man­ity so they con­stantly bul­lied me and abused me and my fam­ily. We were so bro­ken...’’

‘‘Yeah, it was hard for me too, hav­ing to live with my dad and step mum who were bru­tal to me...I was told by my dad many times that my real mum didn’t care for me and that hurt me a lot.’’

The chil­dren were speak­ing from be­hind a screen at a high-pro­file meet­ing in Nel­son, set up to tackle the city’s ‘‘run­away’’ metham­phetamine prob­lem.

They were among sev­eral rel­a­tives of cur­rent and for­mer meth ad­dicts to speak at the event at Nel­son Col­lege for Girls, set up by the vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion Com­mu­nity Con­nect.

To a crowd of about 260 peo­ple, the trio de­scribed hav­ing felt trapped, scared, an­gry and sui­ci­dal.

‘‘The po­lice were con­stant vis­i­tors to my house, so hav­ing any­one over was not some­thing I wanted to risk in case every­one found out and started talk­ing about it at school.’’

‘‘Yeah the cops came to our house too, as mum and who­ever her cur­rent part­ner was al­ways ar­gued a lot, and there was heaps of vi­o­lence too. I felt re­ally scared dur­ing these times, watch­ing my mum get­ting beaten up and try­ing to keep my­self and my sib­lings safe, it was re­ally hard...I used to feel some­how it was all my fault.’’

Chil­dren were see­ing ‘‘the very peo­ple they should be de­sir­ing to em­u­late, who are trapped by drug abuse,’’ said the event’s host, Nel­son po­lice de­tec­tive turned youth pas­tor, Sean Young.

He likened metham­phetamine use to ‘‘drop­ping a pad­dle in a pond.’’

‘‘The main splash is with the in­di­vid­ual user, right in the mid­dle, but then we see the rip­ples flow­ing out through fam­ily, through friends, through our com­mu­nity.’’

A found­ing mem­ber of Com­mu­nity Con­nect Sil­via Yorke called for a cen­tre in Nel­son to help meth ad­dicts and af­fected fam­i­lies find help as soon as they saught it.

The prob­lem had es­ca­lated be­cause peo­ple hooked on meth in Nel­son had to wait too long to be treated by drug agen­cies, Yorke said.

Re­cent fig­ures from Nel­son Marl­bor­ough District Health Board showed the num­ber of peo­ple com­ing for­ward for help with metham­phetamine ad­dic­tion rose from six to 11 in Tas­man this year com­pared to last, and to 27 from 25 in Nel­son.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Nel­son Marl­bor­ough Health Peter Bram­ley cited ‘‘huge num­bers’’ of meth-re­lated in­ci­dents pre­sent­ing to places like emer­gency de­part­ments.

‘‘But we are also see­ing the harm that comes to the wider fam­ily, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren, so where peo­ple are ad­dicted you start to see is­sues of ne­glect in fam­i­lies which has a tragic im­pact,’’ Bram­ley said.

‘‘If we’re go­ing to tackle metham­phetamine in our com­mu­nity, it re­ally needs a com­mu­nity voice and it needs col­lec­tive engagement from a whole va­ri­ety of agen­cies.’’

KATY JONES/ THE LEADER

Chil­dren of for­mer and cur­rent ‘‘P’’ ad­dicts were among those who gave tes­ti­mony at a meet­ing to fight Nel­son’s grow­ing meth prob­lem.

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