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NZ's meth problem: Prevention approach needed instead of 'crackdown', frontline agency says

National's plan for a "crackdown" on methamphetamine isn't enough and funding would better be spent on "prevention and intervention" at a community level, a mental health and addiction services group says.

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Lifewise Rotorua service manager Haeahaetu Barrett wants to see funding for groups that provide "community prevention and intervention". Source: Breakfast

Yesterday, National promised to use the "full force of the criminal justice system to crack down on drug kingpins" in their latest policy to tackle the drug's supply and demand, which would include establishing a $50 million fund for community harm reduction programmes.

It would also introduce targetted offences and sentences and add at least 13 meth detox beds across New Zealand.

However, Lifewise Rotorua service manager Haeahaetu Barrett told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning more needed to be done on the front line.

"We need to have more experience around lived experience, more building capacity and capability with peer leaders, peer support workers because we know that our people are engaged more - and when I say our people I'm not just talking Māori, I'm talking people in the community with mental health and addictions - they engage more with people who have been there, done that and can navigate good pathways," she said.

"We're looking at community prevention, more community leadership, yes working alongside a provider realm but a lot of our initiatives are best practised in our communities."

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Leader Judith Collins said methamphetamine rips apart families and fuels violence. Source: 1 NEWS

When asked about National’s proposal Barrett said rather than police being the first to respond to methamphetamine incidents, health and addiction services would be more effective and appropriate.

"We need more infrastructure around community context. The injection of funding going into the DHB, I can see detox, yes all very good and well, but that's at the end of the scale, that's when people are requiring that intense admission," she said.