Meth addiction infiltrates ‘all walks of life’

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WOMEN’S Refuge manager Cathy Robertson says most of the clients who come through the doors have been dealing with repercussions of methamphetamine in one description or another.

“It’s all walks of life. It doesn’t matter what the background is for the people who are involved with it.”

Often the addiction is hidden, even from those closest to them.

“The money that gets spent on it, sometimes people don’t realise it’s been going on and all of a sudden they just wake up and there’s nothing.”

Missing money is one of the early signs of using, along with significant weight loss and deteriorated skin tone. But more often it was a dramatic and unpredictable personality change of the addict.

One of the familiar stories they heard from clients was they were confused by a partner’s sudden change of moods, behaviour and character.

“Then they [the women] end up with us. Sometimes when we sit down and start talking about it and fleshing it out a bit, the dots are connected.”

The relationships did not have a great chance of success until the addict was prepared to make the necessary changes.

It was important for anybody who found themselves involved with an addict to ensure they were safe, she said.

“There’s lies and deceit and everything – trying to cover up what is going on.”

She acknowledged meth addiction was not isolated or solely with men.

Her experience agreed with others, that Invercargill was rife with the drug.

A police spokesman said methamphetamine use in Southland was an issue which was becoming more concerning as it affected a wide range of people.

“We know it is a highly addictive substance and it destroys the lives of users, as well as harming their friends and family, and the community around them.”

Police said they were approaching the problem from two directions, catching those involved in selling and supplying the drug; the other focused on prevention and support and included referrals to health service providers for addicts.

While police said they were taking a proactive approach, it also meant working hand in hand alongside the communities and local providers to ensure the community was safe and healthy.

Anyone who was concerned about illicit drug use or the effects on children, should seek help or get in touch with Police as it could be done in confidence.

There are also addiction programmes available through the Southern District Health Board, Nga Kete and The Salvation Army.

If you are concerned someone in your community is making or distributing illicit drugs, contact police on 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 800 555 111.

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