WDHB issues warning about the dangers of methamphetamine

3 August 2016
Concerned by the notable increase (around 25 percent) in the number of Whanganui district residents diagnosed with amphetamine-related disorders, Whanganui District Health Board health promotion officer Chester Penaflor is warning the community about how dangerous methamphetamine use can be.
“Because we’re seeing increasing numbers of people seeking help with their ‘meth’ addiction, I’m setting out very clearly the dangers this drug poses and the effects it has on those addicted to it,” Mr Penaflor says.
“As a person’s tolerance of the drug increases, so too do their problems. A person who starts smoking it can move on to injecting themselves, which increases the risk of blood-borne infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis.
“Meth users experience work and study difficulties due to staying up late for extended periods of time, loss of energy, increased number of days calling in sick, and losing all sense of responsibility due to the power of their addiction.
“The psychological effects of methamphetamine can include anxiety, depression, paranoia, aggressiveness and development of irrational and violent behaviours. A physical symptom is skin irritability and the need to constantly scratch, which can lead to sores that become infected. And there is the cost which can reach $500 a week for those who develop a habit.”
Mr Penaflor says clinicians are hearing that methamphetamine is becoming easier to access through social media, encrypted websites, overseas suppliers and globally connected networks.
His colleagues tell him social isolation can be a big issue for some users so having supportive whanau/family who are prepared to stand by them as they go through treatment, can make a huge difference.
“It’s important to have a structured recovery programme after a user has been through treatment,” Mr Penaflor says. This might include exercise, a good diet, connecting with positive people, and keeping themselves occupied and motivated – advice that is a key part of what our Alcohol and Other Drugs Service provide for meth users and their supporters.
“There are a number of services which meth users and their families/whānau can contact. The Alcohol Drug Helpline can be contacted on 0800 787 797 for free and confidential support for anyone concerned about their own or another person’s drug use.”