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29 Jul. 2020

MEDIA RELEASE: Response to call for Methamphetamine Rehabilitation Centre

The Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT) is the peak body for non-government Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) treatment services in the Northern Territory.

We represent over 20 organisations providing drug and alcohol treatment and support to families and clients throughout the NT.

Recently, Territory Alliance party leader Terry Mills called for investment in a dedicated rehabilitation centre for people who have a methamphetamine dependency. While AADANT support the call for increased funding of services for people who use methamphetamine, a facility of this nature has not been called for by the sector and there is no data supporting the need for an additional facility.  AADANT supports the call for increased funding to the sector, however, it is our position this funding should be directed to increasing the capacity of existing services and the sector as a whole.

Territory Alliance have also stated the Northern Territory has the highest rates of methamphetamine use in Australia and is becoming known as the “ice capital” of Australia. This is incorrect. Rates of meth/amphetamine use in the Northern Territory have significantly declined from 6.3% in 2001 to 1.5% in 2019 (AIHW 2020) There is no clear trend in recent illicit drug use and use has continued to decline from 2001 (AIHW 2020)

The assessment by Territory Alliance of the AOD sector lacking treatment options for people who use methamphetamine is also inaccurate. There are currently several programs operating across the NT with a specific focus on working with people who use methamphetamine.  These programs are funded under the National Ice Action Strategy and sit with multiple non-government treatment services.  In addition, AADANT represent a wide variety of treatment services who work broadly and very effectively with people with a range of substance use and dependency issues. The dedication, competency and work of the staff in these agencies is humbling.  Our services are achieving incredible outcomes working with clients with often extremely complex problems.

The alcohol and other drug treatment sector is constantly looking to develop and evolve best practice models.  Some models being delivered in the NT share similarities with the Matrix model proposed by Territory Alliance, however, there is no one-size-fits-all model in this space.
The main barriers to accessing treatment are a result of the stigmatisation and criminalisation of people who use drugs. If you must admit to involvement in criminal activity to access treatment most people will not.
Territory Alliance’s policy paper continues to enforce stigmatisation and discrimination of people who use methamphetamine by describing them as violent and aggressive. Methamphetamine does not make a person violent or aggressive - it is a stimulant drug meaning it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Terry Mills also focused his discussion on ABC Radio Tuesday morning around young people using methamphetamine. Young people have consistently decreasing rates of methamphetamine and other AOD use over the last 20 years.  In fact, the only age group which has seen an increase in methamphetamine use over the last reporting period is those 50+ years old.

AADANT continues to emphasise AOD treatment is available for any Territorian at the time they need support. There are phone lines, counselling services, day programs and residential centres that can assist people who use alcohol and/or other drugs to make positive changes in their life. These services are located across the Northern Territory running voluntary programs who employ qualified AOD clinicians using a variety of methods including cognitive behavioural therapy, group sessions and individual counselling.

We acknowledge Territory Alliance’s interest in the AOD sector and encourage them to speak with peak bodies and services in the NT to understand the imminent needs of the sector before implementing policy.

AADANT strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about their or a loved one’s substance use to reach out through their GP, community health centre or through the many support services which can be accessed across the NT.  There is a service directory available on our website that can provide guidance, or you can call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 131 350 at any time.

Media Contact:
Peter Burnheim
Executive Officer, AADANT
8943 0608