Booze, Pills, Porn and Places You Can Get Help If You Have A Problem With Them.

TLDR; Here are some places you can get help for addiction or substance use issues and some background on why I happen to know about them.

So I found myself on New Years Eve pulled aside at a party, talking to a guy I'd never met before about his self described porn addiction and his weekend alcohol and drug binges. He was  a nice young cat, just looking for some help. This morning I jumped online, and ended up chatting to someone about their parent's alcoholism and subsequently emailing them a bunch of ideas and a list of service providers where they might be able to get some help. Yesterday I was listening to an old pal about their partners substance issues and how they were coping with them.   Like a lot of my friends who are involved in the health sector or advocacy, this is a pretty common string of events and it's really made it clear to me that lots of people don't know where to get help and support for themselves or others when it comes to  addiction.

It's reasonably well documented I grew up with an alcoholic parent, which in part led me to jumping head first  into the Hardcore and straightedge scene when I was introduced to it at 17. While I wouldn't claim 'edge  till 10 years later in 2007,  sobriety intuitively seemed cool to me when my home life was at times violent and chaotic and West Auckland weekend parties with my teenage friends regularly ended with alcohol fuelled fist fights and the riot police turning up.  

While I initially dabbled with alcohol and drugs,  the straightedge scene, and martial arts, Muay Thai training and competitive fighting  became protective factors that steered me away from trouble and ultimately towards long term sobriety and a life focused on maintaining and promoting good physical, mental and emotional health. Emerging from finishing a university degree I found myself offered a position working for a Ministry of Health project called CAYAD creating preventative projects to reduce alcohol and drug harm in at risk youth populations. I'd stay there for six years, and learned a great deal about the field of addictions and what works and what doesn't when dealing with them.  At the same time I worked in radio, and continue to have occasional main stream media slots where I often talk about the shit I have been doing for work, studies I've been privy to, workshops on addiction, or my emerging understanding and experience of mental health issues and the comorbidity between them and substance use.

While all this was happening,  I was busy exploring feminist literature,  as I began rejecting the pornography I'd grown up consuming after the Hardcore and punk scene started me thinking about  sexism, the personal being political and the power of personal boycotts.  My mid 20s and early 30s were a busy time I guess. Porn has become an issue I talk about when it comes to addressing rape culture and sexism in our society, and it's become apparent a lot of people struggle with addiction to it too.  

So, as someone who lives in a small country and has talked openly publicly for a while about the issues of alcohol, addiction,  mental health, and porn, I've found lots of people simply don't know where to get information or help when they are looking for it.  Sharing articles and ideas about social issues on social media means what you put out, you invariably get back, and so I'm regularly fielding messages from people desperately looking for advice and help.

Despite our services being under resourced and under funded here in New Zealand, there are never the less lots of great people and organisations out there to assist you, so I've complied a few of them here. It's not an exhaustive list, but these are places I know of, and know to be good.  Feel free to share these around with anyone you think might be looking for some support to make changes. The more people that are aware of where to get help, the easier it'll be for people to get it. 

My go to for overall current information on drugs, alcohol and the associated issues is the New Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF) site, over here. The NZDF do amazing work, with a strong harm reduction focus.  They also provide the Alcohol Drug Helpline which is 0800 787 797 or you can text on 8681. It's 24/7, 365, and you can speak to a trained counsellor. Their website has comprehensive national directory of services where you can find help in your city or region.  

While the Alcohol Drug Helpline have the service directory  for finding treatment in your area, I'm gonna give a brief overview of a few of these here,  and also include options that aren't listed there, starting mainly with places in Auckland. I'll update this over the coming weeks to include other treatment options around Aotearoa New Zealand. I've hyperlinked all the websites so just click on the name of an organisation, and it should take you there. 

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Sometimes people just need some Respite care, which is a short stay, a break from your everyday life when it seems unmanageable or overwhelming. Puna Whakataa offer a 14 day respite service for people with mental health, and or, addiction issues. 

Medical Detox in Auckland. 
Depending on what you're using, with sever substance addictions people need help withdrawing medically, especially with alcohol, benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax,  that short of thing) and synthetics. Going cold turkey can be really dangerous for a users health, so it's important to seek medical advice.  Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) have a Monday to Friday drop in service and their detox  unit is located at  Pittman House in Point Chev.  There's also a social detox run by the Auckland City Mission, based in Federal Street 

Private treatment options are available for detox too, if you can afford them,  such as Zen, and Turning Point

Residential Abstinence Based Programmes

From detox it'd be recommended to go directly to residential treatment. There's the Bridge Programme which is an 8 week residential treatment, run by the Salvation Army. There is also Higher Ground, which is four and a half months, and is an intensive treatment programme. You could also look at Odyessy House which is open ended time wise, so it's based on progress, without a designated time period and end date. These are all Government funded, which means there will be a waiting list, but won't cost your family or yourself anything. 

Community Based Outpatient Programmes

In Auckland, there is Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS). They have walk in clinics on the North Shore, Point Chevalier, Kingsland, the North Shore, West Auckland and South Auckland. For the most part they focus on  community based harm reduction. That means you can go about your day to day life, but are able to attend an out patient  program a few nights a week.  

There is also Narcotics Anonymous  and Alcoholics Anonymous who run meetings around the country that anyone can drop to and explore the well established 12 step program. 

Pre and Post Treatment

Wings Trust are provide residential pre and post treatment to help people seeking total abstinence transition into treatment and from treatment back out into the community. You can be referred there by other services, such as Higher Ground and The Bridge, or self-referral is also an option, which is suggested. Pre-Treatment is  8 weeks long and post treatment is four months. It's a 12 step based programme with no religious affiliation. 

Porn Addiction. 

After an interview I did that went viral people from as far away as Kuwait and Bangladesh were emailing me looking for places to get help for their porn addiction. Online there is NoFap which helps people recover from their own addiction as well as providing information for partners and parents. There is also Fight The New Drug, which do a lot of activism in the anti-porn space and provide some guidance and a supportive online community when it comes to quitting. Wellington has Sex Love Addicts Anonymous, (SLAA)who offer 12 step meetings for people who have compulsive needs around sex and relationships, which I think is useful to include here.  SLAA  also have a list of meeting on their site for their meetings in Auckland.  There's also a lot of psychotherapists and councillors in private practice who deal with porn addiction, so you can always explore that route. The Roberts Street Clinic, Auckland City Therapy, and Psych'd Ltd all have practitioners who you might like to engage with.   

Family Support

Addiction or substance abuse can have lasting impacts on the people around a user, but there are places you can get help to make sense of what has been happening in your life. Being around addiction can make things chaotic and confusing, but don't lose hope, things can and do change. 

Nationally, Al-Anon use the 12 step approach to help give understanding and hope to friends and families of alcoholics. Check their site for lists of meetings.  The Kina Trust  help people affected by others addictions, and their website is really helpful. Lastly, and again Auckland based only, there are CADS friends and family support options.   You can call them on 09 845-1818 or drop into any of their units between 10am and 1pm Monday to Friday. 

Substance use, abuse and addiction is a tricky problem to deal with and there is no one size fits all solution, but I hope this short list is helpful. As I said, I'll expand on this article with further options around the country in the future.