The pressure is piling on mental health services as methamphetamine addicts seek crisis help.
Mental health services are coming under extra pressure as the number of people becoming addicted to the dangerous drug increases.
Health bosses hope to unroll a new, intensive outpatient treatment initiative before Christmas to help tackle the growing issue.
A report to members of Nelson Marlborough Health Board revealed use of the drug is a “significant cause or concern” for a service already feeling the squeeze.
Nelson Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley revealed mental health services have experienced a high demand.
In a report to the district health board last week, he wrote: “The service welcomed our new psychiatrist to the CAT (mental health community assessment team) team.
“This is the first time the team has had a dedicated medical support which we trust will make a huge difference…
“We still have four vacancies in our teams … this unfortunately means we are heavily reliant on medical locums to give service coverage.”
General manager Mental Health Addiction and Disability Support Services Jane Kinsey says she has noticed more people needing their help.
Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug available in pill, powder, crystal or liquid forms and has serious social, economic and even environmental consequences.
“We are certainly noticing more people seeking help and that’s good but there is a definite upward trend.
“As meth becomes become more embedded in the community it’s become more chronic – and it’s harmful effects.
“Our referrals are increasing because of the demand. We want to be able to respond as quickly as we can,” she says.
A new drug treatment initiative based on a successful American outpatient initiative, the Matrix Model, will hopefully be rolled out in Nelson later this year.
Plans to expand the service to Marlborough next are in the pipeline.
Jane says the impact of the drug is making mental health issues worse in some cases.
“It makes any health issue worse, both physically and mentally. We hear some very sad stories.
“When people present with meth, we really want to respond before they change their minds.
“The ambition is to make contact and give them some ideas and strategies as soon as possible,” says Jane.
The first point of contact for anyone seeking help with methamphetamine addiction should be their GP.