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2011 Drug Policy Symposium: Through the maze

Alcohol and other drug abuse is the 6th highest contributor to New Zealand’s burden of disease. Yet successive governments have underinvested in addiction treatment services that are proven to reduce alcohol and other drug harm.

While attention has recently been given to addiction treatment funding through a number of government policy priorities, for example the Methamphetamine Action Plan and the Drivers of Crime strategy, opportunities to reduce harm through treatment are still being missed.

It is a challenging time for addiction treatment services: Our sector only has 1,200 workers; greater demands are being put on us, especially from the justice sector; we are faced with uncertainties from health sector restructuring; new government priorities aren’t always adequately funded; and, paradoxically, despite high demand for our services, we reach only a fraction of the people we should.

But this year we have some good opportunities to focus attention of policy makers and funders on ways to develop a high quality addiction treatment system that gets more people into treatment and retains those who are already in.  These opportunities centre around a new mental health service plan, a health workforce review, and the refreshing of the mental health and addictions “Blueprint”.

Our  2011 Drug Policy Symposium “Through the Maze: Making Treatment Better” was held on 30 August 2011.

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