Tauranga workshop aims to demystify meth

An upcoming workshop in Tauranga is set to demystify current beliefs, present the ‘cold-hard facts” and offer solutions surrounding methamphetamine in Bay of Plenty communities.

The workshop is being run on October 11 as part of mental health awareness week and has been arranged by Junction Tauranga.

Team leader Vaughn Cruickshank says being mental health awareness week, he felt it was imperative to show the way in which addiction can affect mental health and wellbeing.

“Meth is probably the number one drug issue in New Zealand,” he says. “The issues it creates has surpassed many other drugs because it tends to be cheap and it’s become more readily available.

“Through the work I do and the people I work with, I know the results can be pretty devastating for everyone from the people who use it, right down to their friends and to their whanau.”

However, he says the workshop is not so much lingering on the damages of meth, but educating people as to how to find a way forward from their addictions.

“It’s not straightforward but the workshop is about educating people and letting them know there is support there and how to get it.

“And there’s no better person to talk to about an issue than a person who has lived it themselves.”

That person, is Peter Thorburn who will be the lead presenter on the night.

Peter spent 23 years addicted to alcohol and drugs; with eight of these years being methamphetamine dependant. He was also a meth cook and spent time in jail for drug related charges, says Vaughn.

“But it’s not all about this, it’s about what he’s done since then; what he’s learnt and how he’s helped people to find a way forward.

“Peter does a lot of this work in Auckland, meth is his speciality area but he helps in a lot of other areas to do with mental health support.”

Peter who is now a qualified counsellor, says he’s often seen as one of New Zealand’s more knowledgeable people around methamphetamine.

“I do workforce development for Counties Manukau DHB and have done for more than 10 years; I train a majority of the addiction treatment providers in Auckland around methamphetamine and I’m involved in Te Ara Oranga projects with Auckland DHB.

“Vaghn thought my knowledge and experience might help raise awareness and encourage people to get a better understanding of methamphetamine and how to help communities that are struggling with it.”

Peter says despite the issues methamphetamine poses, his presentation will take a different turn than might be expected.

“Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug, but I think it’s important to note we have addiction right across the sector; right down to alcohol which is just as damaging.

“We have people who struggle with problem gambling and others struggling with prescription medication addictions.

“So this presentation is really demystifying methamphetamine and adding a human element to it; to show people, they can recover from their addictions.

“We help get people through every day, they just need to put their hands up and ask for help.

“We want to present some solutions around how the community can develop its capacity to deal with methamphetamine. Tauranga being a port town is susceptible to amphetamines for sure.”

Peter says based on figures he sees in his line of work, only about five to 15 per cent of people who struggle with addictions seek help.

“On top of this most services within New Zealand are currently to capacity, so we need to get away from relying on services to fix our community and start to develop a community that helps others struggling with mental health and addiction issues.”

Vaughn says a wide variety of people have indicated they will be attending the workshop including councillors from Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council; to iwi organisations; ex-addicts looking to support others; Plunket staff who support families coupling with these issues; and other people within the sector of support services.

The event is on October 11 from 6pm-8pm at Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club at Sulphur Point. Entry costs $2 which will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation at the event’s closing.


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