The harmful use of alcohol and other drugs has significant, widespread impacts on individuals, families and whānau and the whole community.
New Zealand needs to take bolder measures to minimise the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs. Addiction should be viewed as a health and social issue that requires care and support (including more addiction treatment services) for effective management. We need a clear home for alcohol and drug policy within government, and a cohesive and evidence-based approach to policy and legislative reform.
The promotion, socialisation and ease of access to alcohol in New Zealand is a major problem. Over the past 10 years, the government has been presented with many recommendations for reducing the impact of harmful alcohol use. They need to be actioned.
The criminalisation of illicit drugs poses a barrier to seeking help, and convictions for personal drug use have far-reaching consequences on people’s lives. Criminal sanctions for the possession for personal use of controlled drugs should be replaced with civil responses, such as fines or treatment programmes.