Thousands to benefit from additional $10m for alcohol, drug treatment

Wednesday 19 October 2011, 3:02PM
By Simon Power

A $10 million investment package to reduce harm from alcohol and drug abuse has been announced by Justice Minister Simon Power and Health Minister Tony Ryall.

The package is designed to assist thousands of people with alcohol and drug related issues of all severities.

The funding, which comes out of alcohol excise revenue, is on top of the approximate $120 million spent on specialist alcohol and drug treatment services each year.

The package complements the Government’s work to strengthen the regulation of alcohol through the Alcohol Reform Bill and delivers on the priority to reduce alcohol-related harm under the Government’s Drivers of Crime programme.

“Alcohol and drug abuse are major drivers of crime, with two-thirds of offenders who enter prison having dependency issues,” Mr Power said.

Mr Ryall said: “This package builds on services which are focused on people with severe alcohol and drug dependency by addressing the biggest treatment gap for people with mild to moderate alcohol and drug issues.”

The package includes annual spending of:

  • $1 million to increase the use of alcohol screening and brief interventions across a range of settings such as primary health care, accident and emergency, youth health centres, school counselling services, District Courts, and prisons. This could achieve up to a 30 per cent reduction in alcohol use for thousands of people by providing feedback on their alcohol use, advice on low-risk alcohol consumption, and the harm associated with risky alcohol use, and referral to more intensive assessment and treatment options where necessary.
  • $2 million to deliver nationally consistent, enhanced alcohol and drug services for youth. These could reach an additional 2000 young people a year and reduce the waiting time between referral and treatment, leading to lower risk of harm, suicide, and offending related to alcohol and drugs.
  • $1 million for programmes for drink-drivers to help reduce repeat drink driving and enhance public safety. This could achieve up to a 9 per cent reduction in repeat drink driving for 1400 drink-drivers a year.
  • $3.5 million for low-cost, high-volume community-based treatment for offenders who have mild to moderate alcohol and drug problems. Interventions could reach an additional 5800 offenders a year and increase the range of referral options for those who are ordered to undertake alcohol and drug treatment as a condition of their sentence.
  • $2 million for alcohol and drug treatment services to support a five-year Drug Court pilot in Auckland. The court will deal with approximately 100 offenders a year (see separate press release for more information).
  • $500,000 for training and workforce development for more than 500 front-line personnel per year.

The Ministers said that to reduce the impact of alcohol as a driver of crime there needs to be a balanced continuum of services and a much bigger focus on prevention and early intervention.

“Through this package the Government hopes to influence a change in drinking culture, prevent hazardous drinking from escalating, and reduce offending and victimisation,” Mr Power said.

Officials from the Ministries of Health and Justice will create a detailed implementation plan for the package and it is expected the interventions will begin in the second half of next year.

More on the Drivers of Crime programme can be found at

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