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Government's $17m boost for Auckland drug rehab 'merely the beginning', and more 'drastic' action needed, says counsellor

The Government's decision to boost Auckland drug rehabilitation facilities by $17 million has been praised by an addiction counsellor, but his praise is also tempered by his observation the funds are "merely the begnning" needed to combat the problem.

Ex-drug addict turned addiction counsellor at Red Door Recovery, Andrew Hopgood, said the money for 30 new detoxification beds at the Auckland City Mission would undoubtedly "change a lot of lives", but the destructive reach of methamphetamine meant each major New Zealand city needed a new rehab facility.

"It's a good start so thank you to the Government for doing that," Mr Hopgood said on TVNZ1's Breakfast today. 

"It's merely the beginning, it's a bit like putting a band-aid on a broken arm.

Mr Hopgood said New Zealand's drug rehab system was "extreemly underfunded" and "bursting".

"I think we need to do something drastic. Like, if we were to take a whole lot of ex-clients with a good few years clean under their belt. Mentor them through... Welltec has an awesome life changing drug and alcohol course, three-years for a bachelor.

"Mentor them through that, set up a couple of new rehabs, put them through. A lot of rehabs these days they're not forward thinking." 

Also key was matching the counsellor to the addict.

"We need a new rehab, one in each major city. But we need the clinicians. You can open up all the rehabs you want but we need the clinicians, and we need to match the clinicians to the client. No use putting Mr Gangster in front of Ms Doubtfire"

Mr Hopgood also said the problem of meth is "very widespread".

"In rehab at the moment we have an awesome young 18-year-old girl, and we've got a 45-year-old man," he said.

"All walks of life, I've had lawyers, I've had people straight out of school. I've had gangsters, I've had people straight out of jail , I've had nurses, I've had school teachers, you name it."

The Government is injecting $17m into the charity for more drug treatment facilities. Source: Breakfast