West Auckland child found by mum after passing out with synthetic drugs – social worker

Users of illegal drugs often do not know the potency of what they smoke, police say (stock photo).
123RF

Users of illegal drugs often do not know the potency of what they smoke, police say (stock photo).

An Auckland mother found her 11-year-old son in a park, unconscious, after he used synthetic drugs.

Children are being given the drugs in west Auckland and told what they're smoking is a joint, a social worker says.

In one case, older teenagers supplied the 11-year-old with the drugs. He then passed out and was found by his mum in a nearby park, said Keith Filo, a social worker with Family Works Waitākere.

Part of a notice advertising the October 4 public meeting.
SIMON SMITH/STUFF

Part of a notice advertising the October 4 public meeting.

 Filo mentioned the incident during a public meeting on synthetic drugs at the Glen Eden Community House on October 4.

Filo worked with a school in Ranui and said he saw kids who had "been in that zombie-like state". 

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Penny Hinchelwood says the meeting was spawned out of seeing people walk past drug users who were comatose.
MAHVASH ALI/STUFF

Penny Hinchelwood says the meeting was spawned out of seeing people walk past drug users who were comatose.

"It's the older teenage youth who are giving it to the 11and 12-year-olds, and they are saying 'hey, this is a joint'.

"So one of the kids that I work with thought it was a joint, and he just smoked it. And then he got totally knocked out and his mum found him at Starling Park.

"It was quite scary. And that's just one example."

IT'S NOT FLYSPRAY

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Sergeant Michael Wickman told the public meeting that testing had not found flyspray, acetone or rat poison on problem synthetics, as was reported with previous batches.

Instead, it was the "very dangerous chemical" AMB-FUBINACA sprayed onto different base materials, including the common cabbage plant.

"The biggest risk to users is that they don't know how much of the substance they are getting," Wickman said.

Although it was illegal to possess synthetic drugs, and courts could impose a $500 fine, police were not going after users, he said.

There was a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment for suppliers, and 123 people had been charged in the three months up to two weeks ago, he said.

A COMMUNITY COMING TOGETHER

The public meeting was called by the Glen Eden Residents Association and Glen Eden Community Patrol to explore what could be done to alleviate a problem with synthetics in the area.

Social service providers, police and local residents were among the 40 or so people who turned up to share information at the evening.

Organiser Penny Hinchelwood said education was part of the solution as the general public didn't know much about synthetic drugs.

"This is a sensitive issue, and west Aucklanders have died," she said.

She planned to help organise similar public meetings in nearby suburbs.

"There are people in our community who do care. And they work very hard behind the scenes so that we can have a better future."

Hinchelwood  said there were many reasons why people took drugs and she wanted people to help addicts, not shun them.

"Nothing makes my blood boil more than when I hear people say: 'Why should we care?'" she said.

"Don't judge people for the choices they make when you don't know the options they have to choose from. For some, a past filled with utter horror has led them down an addict's path."

Joy Davidson of Community Action on Youth and Drugs gave the meeting tips to pass onto users for harm reduction.

They should know what they are taking, take small amounts and wait an hour, not mix with alcohol or other drugs, and they should look after their mates, she said.

HOW TO GET HELP

​Synthetic drug users, and those concerned about them, can contact the Alcohol and Drug Helpline for help through its website or by calling 0800 787 797.

People concerned about the health of someone who has consumed synthetic drugs should dial 111 and ask for an ambulance.

 - Stuff

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