NZ Drug Foundation wants more focus on health sector to combat synthetic drug abuse

The Executive Director of the New Zealand Drug Foundation believes the Government needs to ‘step-up’ and adjust its focus on funding and resources aimed at combating the abuse of synthetic drugs.

Ross Bell told Kawe Korero last night that "we’ve relied too heavily for a long time on the police to solve what is fundamentally a health issue."

This follows the circulation of a video online of three young men at a park in West Auckland who appeared to be suffering the severe side effects of synthetic drugs.

Last month a video of a young woman in a catatonic state went viral online after she was also believed to have ingested synthetic drugs.

Bell says, “This is first and foremost a health issue and the focus should be on education on treatment on rehabilitation.

I think most people know that we are missing out, we have waiting lists for treatment, we don’t do good drug education in schools because all of our resources are going into chasing criminals down putting them through the courts then locking them in the prison.”

A statement sent to Te Kāea from the Health Minister’s office last month said the Prime Minister had announced $15 million of funding from the proceeds of crime for anti-drug initiatives. This funding also included $3 million for a joint project by Police and Health to reduce the demand for P in Northland.

Bell says, “Families are getting stressed out and fundamentally we aren’t putting enough focus on health, we are not putting enough money into treatment and that’s an area where the Government does need to step up.”

Police are yet to identify the young men filmed in the most recent video and say they are looking into the incident.