More help on way for young addicts

AMANDA PARKINSON
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014

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Youth in the south struggling with addiction will be offered more intervention services after the Ministry of Health assigned the Southern District Health Board further funding.

The Southern DHB was yesterday given an extra $860,000 for youth addiction services.

Mirror Services, the organisation contracted by the health board to provide youth mental health services, applied for increased funding to employ more social workers and implement several new prevention and intervention programmes.

Mirror Services director Deb Fraser said it was critical the organisation employed more workers to meet the region's demand.

"We haven't been able to get traction across this area, there hasn't been a ‘youth detox centre', or school-based intervention programmes," she said.

Ms Fraser said some funding would be used to help families with either parents or youth struggling with substance use.

"We will be able to work with families who are struggling to deal with young people who have addictions, research shows that had the most beneficial outcome."

While youth substance use had not significantly increased in the past five years, 9.6 per cent of youth in the region still reported with substance use disorders, she said.

"That number is staying steady but the early onset of youth dabbling in substance use is inclining, and what we know is the earlier someone is introduced to drugs the higher chance they will struggle with use."

"A report by the Best Practice Advocacy Centre shows the prevalence of alcohol or substance abuse in New Zealand adolescents . . . is estimated to be 24 per cent," Ms Fraser said.

She also said 48 per cent of youth aged 13 to 15 had tried alcohol, tobacco or an illegal substance - most commonly cannabis.

Associate Health Minister Todd McClay said the funding would enhance services and create a stronger link between addiction services, mental health professionals and community health services, such as general practices.

"We want young people to have the best opportunities in life. This is another example of our commitment to ensuring young people have the support and services available to them when they need them," Mr McClay said.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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