National | Drugs

Lockdown created a ‘forced rehab’ for Wellington P addicts, addictions counsellor says

A Wellington addictions councillor says the Covid-19 lockdowns hindered the supply of methamphetamine from Auckland to the southern region of Aotearoa and made many addicts go into “forced rehab.”

The korero from Michael Hogan, a counsellor from Taeaomanino Trust in Porirua, coincides with recent police wastewater figures showing methamphetamine use had significantly increased and remained high since the August 2021 Covid-19 lockdown, with Northland and all of the upper half of the North having high levels compared to the southern part of Aotearoa.

“During the lockdown periods, being on the roads was pretty risky.  A lot of things end up in Auckland and get filtered down and distributed on the way down.  It didn’t filter down here as much, especially during the first lockdown,” he says.

He says he continued to support his clients through telephone and online consultation and the lack of access to methamphetamine created a time of reflection and recovery.

“It forced them into a rehab situation at home. They can’t get it; they can’t go out. It was a circuit breaker for my clients personally. How I supported them was by staying in contact with them by phone, so they always had that constant contact."

Hogan is a former meth addict and spent time in rehab in Taranaki to get better and rid the drug from his life. After his recovery, he now changes the lives of others through his work as an addiction counsellor.

“I didn’t understand how powerful it was until it slowly but surely got me. Rock bottom for me was a point of homelessness. I was lucky enough to access someone who gave me the chance to go to rehab.”

“I know what my clients are going through. I’ve come through the process. I talk to them about what they are going through. I talk with their whanau about how they can support them.”