The NZ Drug Foundation says the Government urgently needs to increase funding for a successful methamphetamine programme and expand it throughout the country following the release of new Police wastewater data.
The ground-breaking Northland programme, Te Ara Oranga, is a partnership between local communities, Police and Health that focuses on reducing demand for methamphetamine by providing health and social support.
Ben Birks Ang, Deputy Director at the NZ Drug Foundation, says Te Ara Oranga has seen remarkable success in Northland, with a recent evaluation finding a 34% reduction in harm from criminal offending and a return on investment of between $3 - $7.
“Te Ara Oranga is a great example of how getting people support as early as possible can reduce methamphetamine harm. The Government needs to urgently increase funding for the programme and implement it throughout the country,” he says.
New Police wastewater data showed an increase in methamphetamine detected in the last quarter of 2021,potentially showing a return to pre-Covid levels, but Birks Ang warns the data does not show the whole picture.
“Wastewater data tends to fluctuate, so we need to look at longer term trends in order to assess whether changes are temporary or permanent,” he says.
“The data also can’t tell us whether this represents more people using methamphetamine or the same number of people using increased quantities.”
Birks Ang says Covid-19 disrupted drug supply chains and use patterns significantly over the past two years, with methamphetamine detection dropping significantly at the start of 2021. He says the latest results may be showing a return to pre-Covid levels of use.
“The wastewater data shows that despite record-setting drug busts recently, methamphetamine use persists. Police themselves say that we can’t arrest our way out of the issue. We need to put more focus on harm and demand reduction initiatives that are proven to work,” he says.
“Te Ara Oranga is a no-brainer that needs to be funded properly and implemented throughout the country.”
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