The New Zealand Drug Foundation welcomes the Government using Budget 2022 to increase funding for addiction services and tackle inequalities and health issues that can worsen drug harm.
However, the Foundation says the Budget does not herald a transformative shift in how Aotearoa approaches drug harm.
“We have long advocated for a move away from ineffective punitive approaches of the past and towards effective health-based solutions. Let's fund what works," Drug Foundation Executive Director Sarah Helm says.
“We are pleased to see the $100 million mental health and addictions package, which in some part, will alleviate pressure and ensure better support for people experiencing addiction.”
“The package also includes welcome funding for existing commitments to both the provision of drug checking services and the expansion of Te Ara Oranga to the Bay of Plenty. Te Ara Oranga is a successful programme working to reduce methamphetamine harm.”
“Overall, Budget ‘22 is a positive investment in Vote Health, including spending on improving outcomes for Māori, school-based health services, the HIV action plan, improving access to health for transgender people and the smoke-free action plan,” Helm says.
Last week, the Drug Foundation released its Five asks for Budget ‘22:
“We estimate the Government currently spends more than four times as much on drug law enforcement as it does on treatment or other health-based approaches.”
“It’d be great to see that reversed and for four times as much money to go into effective health-based approaches as enforcement," Helm says.
“While Budget '22 wasn’t the transformative shift in funding we were seeking, we are pleased to see some improvements and continue to implore the Government to use Budget 2023 to make these changes.”
"Investing in drug harm reduction can save lives by preventing acute drug harm that often requires hospital-level care. This is a more effective use of Government funding."
Survey participants also reported that barriers to accessing services, resources and information were high.
A group of powerful synthetic opioids that were first detected in the country just a year ago may have already been linked to several deaths.
95% of respondents reported positive effects, in a study that looked at both prescription and black market cannabis use.