Meth pilot hav­ing im­pact

Po­lice re­fer more than 200 in North­land for treat­ment with Te Ara Oranga scheme

The Northern Advocate - - Front Page - Dan­ica MacLean

More than 200 peo­ple have been re­ferred by North­land Po­lice for metham­phetamine treat­ment as part of a pilot pro­gramme.

The lat­est sta­tis­tics on the Te Ara Oranga pro­gramme, which started in Oc­to­ber last year, have been re­leased.

The pro­gramme is a joint ven­ture be­tween the po­lice and North­land District Health Board and is fo­cused on re­duc­ing meth harm in North­land.

As of the end of Septem­ber this year, 681 cases are be­ing man­aged by metham­phetamine fo­cus clin­i­cians.

North­land po­lice in­spec­tor Dean Robin­son said the pro­gramme had cre­ated a path­way from po­lice to treat­ment ser­vices for peo­ple with sub­stance abuse prob­lems.

Po­lice re­ferred 208 peo­ple to the DHB for treat­ment be­tween Oc­to­ber 2017 and the end of Septem­ber this year.

“Ev­ery one of those has a story be­hind it. They’re real peo­ple, they’ve got real fam­i­lies,” Robin­son said.

About half of those re­ferred by the po­lice were peo­ple not al­ready known to the DHB.

Robin­son cred­ited the pas­sion­ate peo­ple in­volved at ev­ery level of the pro­gramme for its suc­cess so far.

“They take it per­son­ally, they do their very best to make sure no one falls through the cracks.”

There are eight po­lice of­fi­cers in the meth harm re­duc­tion team, which is led by De­tec­tive Sergeant Re­nee O’Con­nell.

O’Con­nell said peo­ple in the pro­gramme had pro­vided feed­back. One per­son said they didn’t ex­pect the first of­fer of help to come from po­lice.

An­other woman thanked po­lice for in­ter­ven­ing.

“She re­alised that needed to hap­pen to stop that path she was on.”

The team has been ed­u­cat­ing other po­lice staff so they can do re­fer­rals them­selves or pass in­for­ma­tion to the team to fol­low up.

Po­lice have made 68 meth-re­lated ar­rests, car­ried out 62 search war­rants, filed 23 re­ports of con­cern for 53 chil­dren and seized 25 firearms be­tween Oc­to­ber 2017 and Septem­ber this year.

North­land District Health Board pro­fes­sional leader al­co­hol and other drugs Jenny Freed­man said the pro­gramme had been do­ing things dif­fer­ently, which was why it was ef­fec­tive.

The pro­gramme has a 24-48-hour re­sponse time for a re­fer­ral.

“Be­cause they can be hard to en­gage in treat­ment, we wanted to strike while the iron is hot.”

The pro­gramme has also es­tab­lished wha¯nau groups as well as pou wha¯nau con­nec­tors who work with users and their fam­i­lies in the com­mu­nity.

“They will awhi them into the ser­vice and walk closely along­side them in their jour­ney.”

A screen­ing pro­gramme was es­tab­lished at the emer­gency de­part­ment at Whanga¯rei Hos­pi­tal in Jan­uary this year.

So far 2601 peo­ple had been screened, with 58 of those self- re­port­ing metham­phetamine use and 27 of those con­sent­ing to a re­fer­ral.

Freed­man said there are a range of ser­vices avail­able in­clud­ing Sal­va­tion Army, Ngati Hine and Odyssey pro­grammes as well as helplines, peer sup­port, one-on-one coun­selling and res­i­den­tial treat­ment.

Te Ara Oranga works with the meth users to cre­ate re­cov­ery pro­grammes for them­selves.

The em­ploy­ment sup­port part of the pro­gramme has had 67 re­fer­rals and helped place 23 peo­ple into jobs.

“What’s been found is em­ploy­ment is a huge in­cen­tive and a huge mo­ti­va­tor for re­cov­ery.”

She said of­ten peo­ple en­gaged with the job, which means they had to be clean.

A year of fund­ing from the Crim­i­nal Pro­ceeds Act ex­pired in March this year and the Min­istry of Health is pro­vid­ing in­terim fund­ing un­til the end of this year.

The meth harm re­duc­tion team: Con­sta­ble Lisa Brent, Con­sta­ble Karen Ed­wards, De­tec­tive Sergeant Re­nee O’Con­nell, De­tec­tive Steve An­der­son and Con­sta­ble Dar­ron Good­win.

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