Chris Lynch: Christchurch's synthetic drug scene is rife and destroying lives

It comes after a Coroner's report again warning of the dangers of synthetic drugs after the death...
It comes after a Coroner's report again warning of the dangers of synthetic drugs after the death of a Christchurch man. Photo: File / Getty Images
Opinion: Christchurch's synthetic drug scene is thriving but it's killing people, ruining lives, destroying families - and creating a massive mental health crisis in the Garden City.

NewstalkZB host Chris Lynch. Photo: File
NewstalkZB host Chris Lynch. Photo: File
Where is the support to help drug addicts and their families? The trouble is that this stuff is so lethal, it's so dangerous, that it's making people psychotic to the point that our community agencies don't have the resources to deal with them.

Christchurch families told me they have had no other choice, but to use the Mental Health Act to force loved ones into Hillmorton Hospital, to get them clean. But sadly, there's no guarantee that will help.

A recovering addict told me that he deliberately committed crimes to get himself locked up, just so that he could get away from the stuff.

One caller to my morning show said his addiction got him admitted to Hillmorton, but he soon discovered the substance was being circulated among patients.

Shockingly, this was confirmed to Newstalk ZB by the CDHB. In a statement, they said that they were "aware that on occasion, illicit drugs have been brought onto the Hillmorton hospital site.

"Many of the inpatient units at Hillmorton are open units and consumers are free to come and go in line with their level of wellness and their treatment plans."

Matthew Mark. Photo: File
Matthew Mark. Photo: File
City Missioner Matthew Mark told our newsroom synthetic drug users are still walking through the mission's doors, but the batches going around in the community are higher-risk.

He said the widely available substance is manufactured from hideous ingredients - including rat bait, antifreeze and cleaning fluid.

The substance was banned in New Zealand in 2014, but banning it has made little difference, in fact it seems to have exacerbated the problem.

It is clear that this crap is readily available in Christchurch, from dairies to residential homes in leafy suburbs.

One caller told me dealers were deliberately targeting the city's most vulnerable on Hereford St near Oxford Terrace.

Sadly, I'm not surprised. When I produced a short video documentary on the city's homeless, many said they were forced on to the streets because of their addiction to synthetic drugs.

The parents of one user contacted me after they recognised their son's voice on the video, saying they had no choice but to disown him as they had tried everything to get help for their much-loved son.

In a heart-breaking call, Jenny told me her 44-year-old son, who suffered from schizophrenia, died in 2019 after using synthetic drugs.

She said recently she found her son's cell phone with text messages from his drug dealer, and despite a police investigation into who supplied him with the drugs, no one was charged.

If this is the attitude of our authorities, it's no wonder this city is rife with drug dealers and broken families.

 

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