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Don't Turn Your Back On Addiction Treatment

Tomorrow, New Zealand’s Law Commission will issue proposals for making changes to liquor laws tomorrow, putting alcohol abuse treatment at risk, when New Zealand’s drug and alcohol use statistics are truly alarming.
It is estimated that around 3.5% of the population i. e. 140,000 people have serious alcohol or drug abuse problems. According to figures provided by the Alcohol Advisory Council, 29% of the population drinks regularly, becoming intoxicated enough to pose a threat of danger to our families and others.
Alcohol and drug abuse comes at a great social cost in terms of violence, crime and injury, being the sixth highest contributing factor to New Zealand’s burden of disease, including draining our justice and health systems.
Three main alcohol and drug legislations have been reviewed by the Law Commission in recent months, namely, the Sale of Liquor Act, the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act.
Each has reported and decried the significant shortage of alcohol and drug treatment services that are available to New Zealanders.
There is more than sufficient evidence that indicates treatment works, especially if we get in early. New Zealand has a hard-working alcohol and drug treatment sector that has been making a positive difference in the lives of the addicts they treat and their families.
However, the fact is that there are not enough treatment providers and services to meet the growing demand.
Even though alcohol has been identified by the Government as one of its four priorities in studying the causes of crime, in order to meet budget constraints, it recently allowed district health boards to divert funds ear-marked for addiction treatment.
It would be short-sighted not to continue funding, protecting and increasing the alcohol and drug treatment sector. While, addicts are responsible for their own actions, treating alcohol and drug addiction brings far better results than fines or imprisonment.
The extensive review of our drug legislation is a sign that society is re-evaluating our approach to alcohol and drug addiction.
It is essential the Government listens to the recommendations of the Law Commission, focusing more strongly on the need for better and more treatment, with everyone needing it, having easy access to high-quality alcohol and drug treatment, with health, justice and social services maximising every opportunity to provide interventions for alcohol and drug misuse.