Concern Growing for Children in Waikato


A New Zealand community is very concerned about the number of children presenting to hospitals with substance abuse and addiction issues.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show 1000 children were discharged from Waikato hospitals in the last five years who has indications of drug or alcohol use. Some were as young as 12 years old.

The numbers seem to be rising. In 2011 there were 233 children admitted to Waikato hospitals with indications of drug or alcohol use. By mid-May of this year there have already been 145 which show the total predicted number for the year to surpass 2011. 72 children have been enrolled in government drug and alcohol treatment programs in the past 18 months alone. It is estimated that many more are being treated in non-government facilities.

Younger children recover more easily

Health officials say the younger the child is the easier it is to help them overcome their addiction. However, the point out in order for the situation to improve drugs and alcohol must become less accessible.

Stephen King, the director for Waikato Alcohol and Drug Community Support Trust expressed concern for the significant increase in drug use in children and how addiction is being seen in younger kids all the time. King also noted that if the root causes of the drug and alcohol use are not addressed the problem will not get better. Deeper problems often exist that make a child turn to alcohol and drug use and often kids who have turned to substance use have had negative experiences early in life.

Health officials warned that treating substance abuse was just treating the symptom. Parents need to get involved, increase parenting skills and provide stable homes as well.


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