Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald
Author: Simon Collins
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Auckland's only specialist halfway house service for people with drug
and alcohol problems has stopped assessing new applicants because it
has run out of beds.

Wings Trust, which runs seven halfway houses, already has a waiting
list of 16 people for its 41 beds and says any new applicants would
not be able to get in before next February.

Manager Jill Palmer said the number of people wanting assessment
"seems to have just rocketed, to the point where it feels like having
a funnel with people coming in for assessment at the wide end and we
have this little bit at the bottom that we filter people through."

Odyssey House, Auckland's biggest residential service with well over
100 beds, has a waiting list of 133, including some who cannot be
released from jail until Odyssey has a bed available.

"Our waiting list is horrendous," said chief executive Chris

The Salvation Army's Bridge programme, with 55 beds in Auckland spread
across Mt Eden, Waitakere and Manukau, has a waiting list of 55 at Mt
Eden alone and cannot getpeople in until late next month.

Higher Ground, a private trust with 31 beds in Te Atatu, has a waiting
list of 25 and now asks people to wait 9 1/2 weeks.

"For the clients we work with, three weeks is the optimum window to
get someone into a programme," said director Stuart Anderson. "Outside
that time, they need some form of engagement and level of motivation
to carry on along this pathway.

"The reality is that a lot of them will fall out because it's too long
and they can't comprehend not being able to do something right now in
the moment."

With some exceptions, such as Wings and the exclusive Capri Trust, P
is not the main driver of the demand for services.

At The Bridge in Waitakere, co-ordinator Justyn Snowden said that
although 58 per cent of his current clients had used P at some stage,
only 18 per cent still used it as their primary drug when they came
for treatment.

"If I had asked them a year ago, the numbers would have been

At Higher Ground, Mr Anderson said P users peaked at 60 to 65 per cent
of his clients two years ago and were now down to 25 per cent, with a
shift back to alcohol among younger people with the lower drinking

"The status they introduced, with the classification taken up to Class
A, is having an impact on the people using P, and ultimately, when the
police find these labs, that also has a major impact on supply."

Frederick Webb, an independent counsellor, said potential P users had
also been deterred by well-publicised horrors such as Antonie Dixon's
attack on three people with a samurai sword in 2003.

But treatment providers are, in Mr Webb's words, "bursting at the
seams" because their own numbers have been depleted.

Care NZ chief executive Tim Harding said two years ago that
residential beds for drug and alcohol treatment had more than halved
in the previous decade in a swing towards treatment "in the community".

The Salvation Army's national addictions manager, Major Lynette
Hutson, still believes the army was right to close its 85-bed facility
on Rotoroa Island and open two new Bridge programmes in Waitakere (15
beds) and Manukau (8).

"Our broadening understanding says that you come from a family system,
a community system, and whether or not your family links are broken or
whether you are isolated from the community are things that feed your

At Waitakere, the army now treats 15 people who stay at home with
their families, as well as 15 inpatients.

"If there is any chance that they can do this programme and still live
at home, we'll go for it," said Mr Snowden, the local

"We are getting the clients to go out at weekends, to try being at
home - can I live in this environment again? We are trying to get them
to experience out there from the first day they are in so we don't
reinforce dependency on this place." 
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