Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Forget P houses - focus on the P babies

The story being carried by most media this morning relates to P contamination in brand new state houses:

Nearly a quarter of homes built for a brand new state housing development in Christchurch have already been contaminated with P less than a year later.
In most cases, the tenants were single mums with small children, including four toddlers under two.
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said she found the figures "shockingly high" and the age at which some children were being exposed to P, or meth, was an "extreme concern".
"Four of them are two years or younger, so wee babies. It's at a time when they are most susceptible to their environment and they need the healthiest environment they can possibly get. There are some quite serious health effects [from P] with skin and respiratory conditions. And equally you have to question if its a healthy and safe environment. "

The public has every right to take an interest in this. They are paying for it. Paying people to use P around babies - and quite possibly before their births (but that's another matter).

In NZ CYF advises it's social workers:

How does methamphetamine use affect the care of a child or young person?

While methamphetamine use isn't an automatic indicator of unsuitability to care for a child or young person, it does affect a parent/caregiver's ability on different levels. Low-intensity users can generally still function but may experience mood swings. When high, users can feel 'good', be alert, and have a high level of physical activity.

Methamphetamine users may experience increasing feelings of depression, lethargy and loss of energy when 'coming down' after use. These symptoms can impair the user's interest in caring for their children, depriving them of basic physical and emotional needs. This period can last for months during which there is a high probability of substance re-use and an increased need for sleep.

There is a P crisis and there is a child abuse crisis. Or am I overstating the situation?

When National came to power they launched an attack on P. Is it working? From the Drug Foundation:

One of the Prime Minister’s major allies (and instruments) in the war on meth is Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess. He was skeptical of the downward trend in the statistics the last time I interviewed him in 2014, and eight months on, in light of these two enormous busts, he shows no sign of changing his mind.
“I think we’re probably getting mixed messages around that,” he says into the phone, the wryness in his delivery as reliable as ever.
“Some of the survey data, and Chris Wilkins’ data out of Massey, suggests that the numbers are stable or potentially diminishing. But balanced against that, we’re seeing pretty significant amounts of drugs either being manufactured or imported.”

I am in the legalise- all- drugs camp because prohibition is a failure on so many counts, here and internationally.

But when users expose their children pre and post birth, it's a matter for the law.

(Someone asked me at the ACT conference what I thought about orphanages. I am inclined to believe that properly run, they would be better places than some of these toxic shit-holes children are being raised in).


Anonymous said...

There is a P crisis and there is a child abuse crisis. Or am I overstating the situation?

There is neither. There is a welfare crisis, which is why the few nett taxpayers are forced to fund P, and forced to fund houses as P-labs. Stop welfare, sell or demolish state houses, the problems go away.

Anonymous said...

he's dreaming.
P is bad becuase the other non toxics like dope and Ecstasy have been driven out to be replaced by P. It's the gangs cash cow.

Legalize dope and ecstasy and P use will fall as will burglaries.

Brendan McNeill said...


A point that Peter Hitchens often makes about the UK drug experience is also applicable here. We haven't really tried prohibition in any meaningful sense. Not like Singapore for example.

"Persons caught with less than the Mandatory Death Penalty amounts of these controlled substances face penalties ranging from caning, (up to 24 strokes) to life in prison."

Singapore doesn't have a meth-amphetimine problem. Could serious deterrents actually work? We won't know the answer to that question until we try them. However, we are unlikely to try them while the consensus is that 'deterrents don't work', only liberalisation works.

Meanwhile we vaccinate between neither option.

I'd rather we tried liberalisation to see how that worked out, than the 'neither in nor out' situation we presently find ourselves in.

That said, I'm convinced that liberalisation would end in tears, not just for the young people whose lives would be irrevocably destroyed, but also for their parents and grand parents.

Sure, middle class 'responsible' occasional users would be fine, probably, but that's not the issue really is it. They are fine now.

S. Beast said...

Portugal led the way by making all drug use legal, then pouring resources it had previously used to police drugs into rehab. The precipitous drop in drug use and therefore problems associated with them speaks for itself.

It would be interesting to see just how much of the costs associated with contamination will pass to the tenants (if any). I would think it prudent to drug
test prospective tenants prior to moving in and although it would probably never happen those waiting lists would shorten rather nicely.

Jamie said...

Genesis 29 Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

Your knowledge may be more than mine when it comes to these things but the last time I checked, thou shalt not inhale wasn't in the 10 commandments. You could come back at that with Peter 5:8, Galatians 5:21, Proverbs 20:1, Ephesians 5:18 and plenty more. I'd have to then ask what was Jesus doing using his powers to get everyone liquored up in John 2:1-11???

Moving on

"In most cases, the tenants were single mums with small children, including four toddlers under two.
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said she found the figures "shockingly high" and the age at which some children were being exposed to P, or meth, was an "extreme concern".

Lolz, climb down out of the ivory towers and y'all wouldn't be shocked or surprised about none of this - I won't relate no personal stories here, Lindsay don't like that but none of this is new news, it's been going on for generations and anyone who's lived a day could tell you that

As for the crack babies - it's a crying shame

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Jamie, "Shocked or surprised" I'm not. But every so often my rage breaks to the surface. Especially when I am dealing with grief-stricken parents who lost their children through no fault of their own, against the back-drop of parents who demonstrate indifference to theirs.

Brendan, I am pleased that you are at least amenable to trying something different to the status quo. None of us has a crystal ball.

david said...

I went to a party in Singapore with someone I had met through work. I was surprised. I think you would be too Brendan.

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Lindsay

Yes, I probably would be surprised, but then possibly not. The law can only achieve so much, the rest is all about our human response.

Speaking of which, and while just slightly off topic, I thought you might be interested in this post from Rod Dreyer which goes a long way to explaining the problems facing communities, families and individuals in America, but is equally applicable here. These are problems of which drug use / abuse / child neglect / abuse is but a symptom.