Use of meth reducing, sampling indicates

After years of rife methamphetamine use in Westport — the town once dubbed "Methport" — P use appears to be on the wane.

It is not clear when the class A drug took hold in the town, but research following the loss of hundreds of jobs at Stockton mine found it was prevalent.

Around that time, teachers reported the first "P babies" were starting school in Westport.

A Massey University study named the West Coast as one of a handful of regions where P was now more prevalent than cannabis.

The latest wastewater results show methamphetamine is still prevalent there, but the amount detected from traces in the town sewerage system has dropped significantly in the past year and is now well below the levels seen in Christchurch and Nelson.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said anecdotally there was still a concerning level of use of meth.

Police were looking to recruit someone to approach meth use from more of a health perspective.

Mr Cleine said it was hard to tell how prevalent it was.

"Police are actively working on it. There was a bit of a [drugs] bust in town yesterday, which is good. It’s a definite factor in the town. If it’s improving, that’s great."

Mr Cleine said the drug use was not necessarily linked to deprivation.

West Coast police area commander Inspector Jacqueline Corner said police were working with the West Coast District Health Board, Ministry of Social Development and other local agencies to address the social impact methamphetamine had on local communities.

Meth was identified by the West Coast Cross Sector Forum as one of the main concerns in the region.

"A subgroup has been working for some time trying to work through viable initiatives to ensure what we do is achievable and sustainable. Health are the lead agency, with support from police and MSD," Insp Corner said.

"We are about to introduce a new referral service ... we are hoping that the initiative will start at the beginning of August."

Former police drug squad detective Dale Kirk, who now carries out drug education for Methcon, has been on the West Coast several times in recent years to talk about drugs.

He said the wastewater sampling was reliable, and if it showed a decrease, that probably reflected what was happening in the community.

"It’s encouraging after the concerns of the last few years."

However, Mr Kirk warned against complacency and said the wastewater report showed the "tentacles of meth, stretching all over the country".

"It’s not confined to the big cities." — Greymouth Star

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