To find available support in your area, check out Health Point.
There are many different support options. All services through the public health system are free. If you want to look for private support, you can talk to those services about cost.
If you are feeling stuck or unsure where to start, you can talk through your options with someone on the Alcohol Drug Helpline
It can sometimes take a few tries to find the type of support that fits you best. Different types of support work better for different people.
0800 METH HELP
The Meth Help counselling service offers free, confidential phone support for anyone in New Zealand.
Call 0800 METH HELP (0800 6384 4357).
You can talk to them about any meth-related issue or problem. You can get:
- advice on how to be safer when using meth
- self-help material designed for people who use meth
- a follow-up service where calls are arranged in advance at a time that works best
- help with cutting down or stopping
- help with finding and getting treatment
- support while waiting for face-to-face counselling to become available
- support for whānau and friends of someone using meth.
The Meth Help Counselling Service is free. It’s staffed by trained counsellors at Odyssey House in Christchurch. They are people with a range of experiences, including their own personal experience of meth and other drugs. They’re not 24/7 but are available Monday to Friday. Evening sessions can be arranged beforehand.
You can also follow them on Facebook.
If it’s the weekend or after hours, you can talk to someone at the Alcohol Drug Helpline (call 0800 787 797 or text 8681 for free). They’re 24/7 and can arrange for the Meth Help Counselling Service to contact you later.
One male talks about the misconceptions some people have about P (meth):
“If you’ve got a standard, normal individual out there that takes P, they might get agitated but they’re not going to take a samurai to somebody.”
Alcohol Drug Helpline
The Alcohol Drug Helpline supports anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s drug use. They are open 24/7. It is all kept confidential and is completely free.
What will happen if you call them?
If you call them, a trained addictions counsellor will ask about what’s been going on and listen to your story. They will not judge you and will offer support that fits your needs.
If you’re not sure exactly what your needs are, they can ask some questions so you can work this out together.
If you need some more support, they can make a referral to a specialised service like a residential house (rehab).
Can you talk to them more than once?
It’s completely up to you. You can talk to them regularly so you can track your progress together and adjust your goals as things in your life change or you can contact them for a one-off chat.
How do you contact them?
You can talk to them by phone, text or online chat depending on what suits you best. All options are free.
- Call them at 0800 787 797.
- Text them at 8681.
- Live chat on their website.
- Call their Māori Line at 0800 787 798 for advice and referrals to kaupapa Māori services.
- Call their Pasifika Line at 0800 787 799 for advice and referrals to services developed for Pacific people.
- Call their Youth Line at 0800 787 984 for advice and referral to services for young people.
Asian services offer support that is designed specifically for Asian people. The counsellors, social workers and other support staff understand Asian culture and the challenges Asian people can face living in New Zealand. They are qualified and able to speak many different languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi etc.). All information that is shared with them is kept confidential and private. No information can get back to people that you know. Most of the people that offer the support are migrants themselves and can relate to the challenges that people can face as a migrant or refugee in New Zealand.
The main way that Asian services support people is by using what is called the ‘Integrated Tree Model’. This helps people talk about the migration journey, and how they have been uprooted and moved into new ‘soil’ and are in the process of integrating themselves into their new environment (which can take time and patience). The person is supported to grow ‘stronger roots’ and work towards better health and wellbeing. The most important part is the connection between the counsellor/social worker and the person who is seeking support.
Call the Asian Helpline (0800 862 342) for support that is free and confidential. They are open from Monday to Friday between 9am-8pm and are available in ten languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Hindi and English.
Asian Family Services also have drug and alcohol resources in Chinese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese, and offer support through face to face, video calls, WeChat and phone. You can call the Asian Helpline (0800 862 342) or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
Other options for support are to visit University Health Services or to talk to your GP about the things you need support with.
Drug treatment units
Drug treatment units (DTUs) help people with drug issues while they are in prison.
The DTU programmes are very similar to other residential treatment services. These programmes focus on helping people to stay abstinent (no drug use at all) and look at their drug use and the behaviours around their drug use. There is a strong focus on reducing the likelihood that drugs might contribute to further prison time. Generally, to be placed in a DTU programme, an inmate must show that they are motivated to make changes.
These programmes are typically 3–6 months long but also depend on the length of the inmate’s sentence. The programme will look at the inmate’s reasons for using drugs, related behaviours, relapse prevention planning (how to not go back to using drugs) and how to regulate emotions and provide ongoing support during their time in prison.
Some prisons also have support groups that come in to support inmates to make changes. They can be very important and are often strongly recommended as part of the inmate’s relapse prevention plan.
Family support is for the friends and whānau of people that use drugs. When we are supporting other people, it can be easy to forget that we need our own support as well. Family support gives you a space to talk about what is going on for yourself and meet other people that are going through similar experiences. It can help you strengthen your relationship with the people in your life that are using drugs and make positive changes. Here is some of the support available in New Zealand:
- Call Family Drug Support on 0800 337 877 to talk about what you are going through. They provide one to one counselling for family/whānau members using the 5-Step Method. They are available for anyone in New Zealand. You can refer yourself via their website. Phone support is also available via a free-call support line. Leave a message and someone will call you back, usually within 24 hours.
- Call Brave Hearts on 0508 272 834 for support. They have online and in person meetings and can have someone run a family meeting for you in person, on the phone or online. You can also visit their website to see stories from people in similar situations.
- Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 or text them at 8681 to talk with them and find out what support is available. They are a good place to start if you want to know what support is available in your area. The helpline has experienced professionals who provide a confidential and free service to anyone affected by drugs.
- Kina Trust has information and advice for the families of people who use drugs and alcohol and are experiencing problems because of it. You can read about or watch videos of the experiences of others who are in a similar situation to you.
- Visit MHERC to join regular online support groups.
For more information on what support may be available near you, see Health Point.
Kaupapa Māori treatment offers programmes designed specifically for Māori. These services offer manaaki and a safe environment for whakaora or healing.
Kaupapa Māori services look at far more than just drug and alcohol problems. They take a holistic approach to a person’s wellbeing.
Many of these services use a Māori health model known as Te Whare Tapa Whā. This model uses the analogy of a whare, looking at the four walls as the key elements of hauora:
- Taha tinana (physical health).
- Taha wairua (spiritual health).
- Taha whānau (family health).
- Taha hinengaro (mental/emotional health).
Te Whare Tapa Whā suggests that, if one wall of the whare is affected negatively, all four walls are affected. Whānau plays a major role in the support that is provided. This could mean working alongside whānau to help all members – not just the person who is using drugs. This may also mean working with people to help them cope with the environment they are living in.
There are also natural therapies available like rongoā Māori, which can provide traditional healing.
The NZ Needle Exchange Programme provides free or low-cost sterile injecting equipment, like needles and syringes, to anyone who needs it. Using sterile, new equipment is a key way to stay safer if you're injecting.
They provide a free exchange service where you can return used needles and syringes in exchange for new needles and syringes. Note that currently only 3mL syringes are funded for this.
There are dedicated needle exchange services around the country, and some pharmacies offer needle exchange services.
You can buy other equipment, like different sized syringes or wheel filters, at needle exchange sites or via their online shop.
The friendly staff at needle exchange sites can help you learn techniques to stay safer if you're injecting.
Some needle exchanges offer free, legal drug checking to help you find out if your drugs are what you think they are, or if they've been mixed with anything else. Find a drug checking clinic near you.
The Needle Exchange Programme currently has a focus on reducing Hepatitis C in communities of people who use drugs, and some needle exchanges offer free Hep C testing.
Seeing a counsellor can be a great starting point for getting support and making changes.
All counselling is different, and there are many different types of counselling styles. Sometimes, it can take a few tries before you find a counsellor you like. Like any relationship, it may take time to get comfortable with each other. It’s OK to take your time to build trust with them first.
What will happen if you see a counsellor?
If it’s your first time seeing a counsellor, you will usually go through an assessment process. This typically involves having a chat about what’s been happening in your life, how much you’ve been using and so on. Once this has happened, you can discuss with them what sort of help would best fit your needs. At the end of the day, it’s about what you want. You set the goals. You make the changes you want to. The counsellor will guide you through this.
They can also let you know about other treatment services available and guide you to where you want to be.
District Health Board (DHB)-funded outpatient programmes are an option for people who don’t see residential programmes as a good fit. It is not always realistic to give up your source of income and life commitments to go and live in a residential house.
People will usually be pre-accepted for an outpatient programme and go on a waiting list until a place opens up. The programme is usually about 8 weeks long and does not require a person to move in to a house or community.
Outpatient programmes (sometimes called day programmes or support groups) are best suited for people experiencing moderate risk and harm from their use of alcohol and other drugs.
What are outpatient treatment programmes like?
Typically, an intensive outpatient programme involves about 8 weeks of group psychotherapy sessions. The group is where most of the change happens, but there also could be one-on-one counselling outside the group sessions.
After being referred by your GP, you will be asked a few questions (assessed) on the phone and in person. Once accepted, you could be placed on a wait list to join an upcoming programme. From talking to your GP to starting the programme may take about 2 months with several contacts in that time and continued support from your GP. At first, the group might involve getting to know each other and getting a feel for working together. This leads on to the more intense work. Usually, participants will make a commitment to not use drugs or alcohol during the programme.
How do you join a programme nearby?
Your GP can refer you to one. After that, you will most likely get a call from your DHB addiction treatment coordination service. It can be helpful to discuss your use of drugs and alcohol with your GP before asking for the referral. Learn more about what might be available near you by searching Health Point. This may list the services that offer the programme or just show the addiction treatment coordination service for your DHB. Your GP can contact them for the referral. Your DHB’s mental health and addictions website may contain more information if you are interested. If you are feeling stuck about what to do, you can talk it over with someone on the Alcohol Drug Helpline.
Opioid Substitution Treatment
These services are for people that use opioids and can include medication that reduces cravings and withdrawal.
To access opioid substitution treatment (OST), ask your GP or local alcohol and other drug service. You can also call the Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797) or visit Health Point to find out what is available in your area.
What does OST offer?
Opioid substitution allows people to overcome opioid dependence, which can impact your daily life. OST is a legal way of managing the dependence and allows people to begin the process of change.
The long-term goal of OST is to help people become opioid free. You will be guided through this process as it can take some time to reach that goal.
Pacific services offer support that is designed specifically for Pacific people. They help people make positive changes through teaching about a person’s culture and strengthening their connection to their culture. Pacific services use holistic models (looking at the whole person) to support people to make long lasting, positive changes and improve their health and wellbeing. They take traditional lessons from the past and apply them to modern life for New Zealand's growing Pacific population.
Pacific services use a number of Cultural models that are backed up by research. For example the Fonofale Model, uses the ‘fonofale’ to represent the person with its foundation, pillars, rooftop and surrounding. The Fonofale model looks at the whole person, including their physical, mental, spiritual and cultural wellbeing.
For some Pacific services, you need to get a referral from a GP or other community organisation. For others you can call them directly or just walk in the door and let them know you are looking for support.
There is also a wide range of culturally relevant support available in the community. Pacific services often partner with schools, churches and community groups to make sure support is available for Pacific families.
Peer support involves getting help from someone who has their own lived experience of struggling with alcohol and other drug use. This helps them understand what others may be going through and guides how they support people. They may support others through role modelling, sharing their experiences and discussing how recovery is for them today. This support can come through one-on-one conversations or meeting in a group.
Peer support is becoming more commonplace as a support option within the addictions sector. Peer support can often help people find employment, education, social support and other specialised help.
To access peer support, ask your GP or local alcohol and other drug service. You can also call the Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797) or visit Health Point to find out what is available in your area.
Living Sober is a free and anonymous online community for people to talk about their relationship with alcohol.
Residential programmes involve living in a community with others who want to stop using alcohol and other drugs.
How long do people stay?
Depending on how a person’s recovery journey goes, they might stay in the community from a few weeks to over a year. This is for people who have a dependence on drugs and alcohol and are experiencing a lot of harm from their use.
What can you expect to find?
One male describes what he felt on a residential programme: “I think the most important thing was – I felt for the first time there was somebody who wanted to help me and that wasn’t judging me and was warm and real, and I felt I had someone on my side.”
Residential services offer an environment that is supportive for people to begin making big changes in their lives. Residential treatment acts as a micro community that lets people start addressing the behaviours that led to their drug use and related harms.
Joining a residential service can be a big step. They are for people who have experienced a lot of harm from drugs, have been unsuccessful in sustaining long-term change and are ready to start living their life in a different way.
Self-help workbooks can help people think about their situation and change their alcohol and other drug use. To see what self-help workbooks are available to order or download, see Resources. All resources are free.
There are a lot of different kinds of support groups available in New Zealand. These may include church support groups, peer support groups or continuing/after care groups at treatment centres (support for people leaving residential treatment).
Living Sober is a free and anonymous online community for people to talk about their relationship with alcohol.
One of the biggest support groups for people recovering from drug addiction is Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – a non-profit organisation whose sole purpose is to help people stop using. There is no membership fee, and they are not connected to any other agency or group of any kind. NA schedules regular meetings for those who want to be involved and provides a space that does not judge a person’s background, the drugs they have used or who a person is connected to. They are there to help people make massive changes in their life. To become a member, people only need one thing: the desire to stop using drugs. NA is run by its own members and has meetings worldwide. Narcotics Anonymous involves working through a 12-step programme of recovery, which has helped thousands of people around the world to make big changes to their life.
There is also Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for people who are looking for support with stopping alcohol use instead of other drug use.
Smart Recovery is a programme where people come together as a group, support each other and give advice. The group builds on people’s strengths to change addictive behaviours that are affecting their lives. Smart Recovery does not focus on the past and helps participants by supporting them to come up with practical and solution-focused ways to achieve their goals.
The programme is based on four areas:
- Building and maintaining motivation to change.
- Coping with urges to use.
- Managing thoughts, feelings and behaviours in an effective way without addictive behaviours.
- Living a balanced, positive and healthy life.
Smart Recovery groups are still being established in New Zealand. For more information, visit their website.
Support houses or half-way houses can be a very important step for people recovering from harmful drug use.
Available support house accommodation is quite limited in New Zealand. Most of them are connected to a residential treatment programme and are used for people who have graduated and left residential treatment.
When people leave residential treatment, it can feel daunting to go straight back into the community. This transition can be difficult, especially if they don’t have anywhere drug free or safe they can go back to. A support house offers a supportive environment to help with this transition.
Some support houses may offer a small amount of group work, a chance for one-on-one counselling and time to plan out the next steps of their journey. This may include finding a job, entering study, finding a safe place to live and building a support network. The residents typically run support houses. They share the household duties, like cooking and cleaning, and support each other through difficult times.