Children of meth addicts describe guilt and shame
It was a conversation among children that made for grim listening.
"I got really depressed, and isolated myself, the drugs took away my brothers' humanity so they constantly bullied me and abused me and my family. We were so broken..."
"Yeah, it was hard for me too, having to live with my dad and step mum who were brutal to me...I was told by my dad many times that my real mum didn't care for me and that hurt me a lot."
The children were speaking from behind a screen at a high-profile meeting in Nelson, set up to tackle the city's "runaway" methamphetamine problem.
They were among several relatives of current and former meth addicts to speak at the event at Nelson College for Girls, organised by the voluntary organisation, Community Connect, to try to set up more support for people affected by the drug.
To a crowd of about 260 people, the trio described having felt trapped, scared, angry and suicidal.
"The police were constant visitors to my house, so having anyone over was not something I wanted to risk in case everyone found out and started talking about it at school."
"Yeah the cops came to our house too, as mum and whoever her current partner was always argued a lot, and there was heaps of violence too. I felt really scared during these times, watching my mum getting beaten up and trying to keep myself and my siblings safe, it was really hard...I used to feel somehow it was all my fault."
Children were seeing "the very people they should be desiring to emulate, who are trapped by drug abuse," said the event's host, Nelson police detective turned youth pastor, Sean Young.
He likened methamphetamine use to "dropping a paddle in a pond."
"The main splash is with the individual user, right in the middle, but then we see the ripples flowing out through family, through friends, through our community."
A founding member of Community Connect, Silvia Yorke, called for a centre in Nelson to support meth addicts and affected families find help as soon as they asked for it.
The problem had escalated because people hooked on meth in Nelson had to wait too long to be treated by drug agencies, Yorke said.
Recent figures from Nelson Marlborough District Health Board showed the number of people coming forward for help with methamphetamine addiction rose from six to 11 in Tasman this year compared to last, and to 27 from 25 in Nelson.
Speaking at the meeting, Chief Executive of Nelson Marlborough Health Peter Bramley cited "huge numbers" of meth-related incidents presenting to places like emergency departments.
"But we are also seeing the harm that comes to the wider family, particularly children, so where people are addicted you start to see issues of neglect in families which has a tragic impact," Bramley said.
"If we're going to tackle methamphetamine in our community, it really needs a community voice and it needs collective engagement from a whole variety of agencies."