by Chris Tobin
The number of South Canterbury people seeking help for addictions, such as meth, and for multiple addictions, has increased significantly
This has been the finding of the Salvation Army in Timaru which runs an addiction course three to four times a year.
“Over the last few years it has increased dramatically,” lieutenant Jacob Howan of the Timaru Salvation Army said.
“My wife Emma and I have been here two years; when we arrived, each course had 12 to 15 people; in the courses we had last year we had close to 40 people.”
Mr Howan said they ran a six-day block course in Timaru, two days a week over three weeks. It runs in conjunction with a residential Bridge Treatment Programme in Dunedin.
“It’s a course for some people who just needed to be steered in the right direction; some have done a large rehabilitation programme somewhere else and have returned to Timaru.”
Those who attended ranged from teens to older people in their 50s and 60s.
“It’s quite widespread and not just one group; there’s a gender mix as well. We also have family members who might engage in the course for a brother or sister.”
The addictions covered a range.
“It’s anything, any and all substances.
“A lot of people think the Salvation Army works with alcoholics but we also deal with meth, cannabis, and other substances.”
An increasing trend also, and it was seen all over New Zealand, was that people had more than one addiction.
“It varies wildly but we see double addiction, even three addictions.”
He said this made the work complicated.
“We continue to see meth which is a large part of the cases.
“In the time we have been in Timaru there have been a lot more people using meth.”
Those who attended the course learned about the impact drugs and alcohol had on their bodies and the effects on their brains.
“We show them this is what happens chemically and this is the damage.”
In some cases people came to the Salvation Army because of some event in their lives while others had been referred by agencies, sometimes by the court and Corrections.
Mr Howan said the Salvation Army could help people not just with addictions but also with other aspects of their lives through access to a food bank and other services.
A lot more people were attending the course than what had been envisaged.
“We’re not stretched but we’d like to do more; if we want to expand we will, to meet the need.”