SHARE

Methamphetamine use in Oamaru is becoming more prevalent, Oamaru Licensing Trust (OLT) general manager Cathy Maaka says.

Over the past 18 months, there had been a noticeable increase in the number of meth-affected patrons at Sports Central Brewhouse and Northstar Restaurant and Bar, Mrs Maaka said.

But the issues at OLT premises were representative of a wider societal problem, she said.

“As a member of the community I feel very concerned .. it’s become the party drug of choice for some people,” she said.

“You can see the deterioration in health in some people, which is very sad.

“People think it is only addicts that use it and I think people would be surprised at who has and who does.”

A methamphetamine community response group, made up of social services dealing with the various aspects of drug-related harm, has been set up under the Safer Waitaki umbrella to investigate how to best tackle the problem.

“The hardest part is [figuring out] how you address it,” Safer Waitaki co-ordinator Mrs Algar said

“We want people to feel safe and supported, that is the driver.”

The group was investigating ways in which the community response could be best implemented and supported, Mrs Algar said.

It was “critical” that the issue was tackled by society as a whole, not just isolated agencies, she said.

“It is an issue that affects the whole community.

“All the Safer Waitaki groups are aware of aspects of any problem, so being part of the Safer Waitaki network gives us the opportunity to understand the issue from a range of different angles.

“But it is a complex issue and it is taking us some time to drill into it.”

Methamphetamine addictions cut across socio-economic lines, and the impact was felt beyond individual users. Families and the wider community were also seriously affected, she said.

“It affects everybody.

“What is important is people have some knowledge about what it is and how it affects people and they need to have knowledge about where to go to for help.”

Detective Senior Sergeant John Ferguson, of Dunedin, said Oamaru police were concerned about the supply and use of methamphetamine in the community.

“Methamphetamine causes significant harm in communities right across New Zealand,” Det Snr Sgt Ferguson said.

“Police [have] no tolerance for drug dealing in our communities and we will continue to target the suppliers of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs.

“We urge anyone with information about offending in our community to come forward and work with us to stop these criminals putting our communities at risk.”