by Greta Yeoman
Methamphetamine (meth) use has increased in South Canterbury, social services say.
Mid South Canterbury Women’s Refuge manager Dawn Rangi-Smith said meth usage was causing unpredictable situations for case workers when they went into homes of users who were already causing family violence situations.
“It’s a whole new ball game.”
Ms Rangi-Smith said use of the drug had “ramped up” around the region.
Five of one case worker’s seven new clients had reported meth usage was a factor in their relationships.
Canterbury police rural area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said the drug was “reasonably prevalent” in the community, and there were several cases of people supplying and selling the illegal substance.
“[They are] making money out of people’s misery.”
The police had more of an issue with those dealing meth, Insp Gaskin said.
“[There are] better ways to address the addicts than putting them before the justice system.”
Timaru Salvation Army addictions caseworker Glenn Smith said he had seen three women in the past week who were using the drug and their “lives in disarray”.
“Your whole life revolves around getting meth.”
Despite the work and programmes he ran for meth users, Mr Smith estimated only one in 20 clients ever got clean.
“It’s a terrible thing to get off.”
Odyssey House Trust Meth Help team co-ordinator Katie Dainter said due to the anonymous style of the service, which supports residents with meth addictions across Canterbury, she could not say specifically if referrals had increased in South Canterbury.
However, overall referrals to the service had increased from 90 at this time last year to 157 this year.
“[This] is in line with what we consistently hear anecdotally about meth use increasing across the country in all communities.”
Ms Dainter said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly why the drug had increased in popularity, but it was more common, the price was dropping and drug testing at work had also prompted some drug users to switch substances.
“Many of our clients have mentioned to us that when workplace drug testing started they switched [from cannabis] to using meth over a weekend, knowing that it would be out of their system by the time they were back to work.”
Mr Smith said he knew of many families that had been torn apart by a parent’s drug use, having children taken in by grandparents or ending up in Oranga Tamariki (Ministry of Children) care.
“I’ve never seen a drug that will separate women from their children [like meth].”
He plans to host another programme for drug users and their family or friends, beginning on June 7. The course would be held two days a week for three weeks. Lunch would be provided for attendees and transport was available, he said.