Pubdate: Wed, 24 Oct 2007
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2007 New Zealand Herald
Author: Simon Collins
Cited: NZ Drug Foundation
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


An Italianate fountain ringed by sculptured lions holds centre stage
in the grand reception room at Capri, the up-market drug treatment
centre that recently hosted Millie Holmes.

At the far end of the room, under a high chandelier, comfortable
armchairs look out across Waipuna Lagoon. Once the home of businessman
Guy Smith, the house is now one of two at 160 Waipuna Rd East that
have been joined together to form an exclusive treatment centre for 12
wealthy clients.

Mr Smith, a recovered alcoholic, bought the house next door and hired
American addiction counsellor Tom Claunch to open the clinic nine years ago.

Its fees - $5062.50 a week or $15,187.50 for a year's programme mixing
inpatient and outpatient care - make Capri controversial in a New
Zealand context, where drug and alcohol counselling is free at all
except one other residential clinic.

"People who call Capri are told you can't get treatment elsewhere
because the waiting lists are long and you need to pay us $14,000. We
know that's not true," said NZ Drug Foundation chief executive Ross

An Auckland counsellor said a lot of treatment programmes don't
support Capri.

Among people who refer patients to it is Life Education Trust founder
Trevor Grice.

Mr Grice, who still works part-time for Life Education at the age of
75, confirmed that he was one of about five people in Wellington who
assess and refer clients to Capri, and provide follow-up care when
they return to the capital, for a fee.

Asked whether the referral fee was $1000, he said, "It would very
easily be. Doctors refer them and doctors charge a fee. They are not
going to do the base work without being paid."

Mr Claunch, a former president (1982-86) of the 11,000-member US
National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counsellors, prefers
to see Capri as relieving the burden on the public health service.

"Capri is in the same legal situation as the Salvation Army or Odyssey
House. We are a charitable trust.

"The only difference is that we decided not to compete for the limited
amount of Government money.

"If we were to go after it, it would have to be taken away from
someone else."

The programme is designed for successful people who can afford the
money but can't afford to be away from work for three months - the
minimum time that Odyssey House considers essential to break a severe
drug or alcohol habit.

At Capri, some stay as little as two weeks, and most stay only three
or four weeks, continuing with outpatient therapy in their home town
intensively up to the three-month mark and then less often for the
rest of the year.

The $15,187 fee pays for the whole programme, including the cost of
local therapy wherever clients live.

Methamphetamine (P) has accounted for about half of Capri's clients
for the past few years.

About 40 per cent are addicted to alcohol and the remaining 10 per
cent to other drugs.

What has changed recently is that the clients have become

"We used to get a lot of early-30s businessmen. Now we are getting a
lot of 18, 20, 22-year-old men and women," Mr Claunch said.

"We have had, within the last two months, six absolutely
drop-dead-gorgeous 20-plus females from very prominent families, all
of whom got involved with abusing, drug-using, drug-dealing

Capri works with families that have often banded together to send
their loved ones to Waipuna Rd - an advantage that often can't be
drawn on at public clinics, which people may not get to until they
have totally alienated their families through years of difficult behaviour.

The only other clinic that charges for residential treatment is
Harbour House in Lyttelton, opened as a private centre in 2005 but
taken over last year by Care New Zealand, formerly the National
Society for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

It charges $13,500 for four weeks. 
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