New Regular Drug and Alcohol Counselling

This has now changed, with Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) sending someone over each month, with contact also available with that person throughout the month (by phone). The service is completely free.

The unique thing about the new CADS system is that it offers total confidentiality (should you want it). You don’t need to book through the health centre – you can contact the counsellor directly to make an appointment. 

We spoke with CADS clinician Suzie Walker (currently the regular visiting counsellor).

What is CADS? 

Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS) works alongside people looking to change their use of alcohol or other drugs. We are a large organisation offering a range of free general and more specialised services for the Auckland region. 

What is CADS’ history with the Barrier?

Until recently, CADS was available mainly by phone and virtually, with face-to-face appointments only available in Auckland when needed, so we are pleased that this is now changing. The CADS Opioid Treatment Service (AOTS) has been supporting clients, GPs and the pharmacy for several years.

Why have you started coming here once a month?

We became aware that being more accessible for people who are experiencing concerns with alcohol and drug use, particularly young people, would be useful, so started face to face clinics for the residents of Great Barrier Island.

Who now comes over and what exactly do they do/offer

An alcohol and drug clinician is now available at the Aotea Health Centre on the second Wednesday of each month. They offer information about alcohol and other drugs and how to reduce the harm associated with these substances. They can help develop a plan to make positive changes and provide ongoing support to sustain these changes. They can also refer you to other more specialised CADS services such as medically managed withdrawal or opioid treatment, as well as our pregnancy and parental service and youth service.  

CADS can also offer support for friends or whanau/family who are concerned about someone else’s substance use.  They can either attend the clinic, or this could be seen via telehealth/virtually.

Are many people using the service?

We have always had some clients who live on Aotea and hope by visiting regularly it will be easier for Islanders to engage with our services. 

Are Aotea’s issues with drugs and alcohol any different to other places? 

While all communities in New Zealand have unique characteristics, the impact of substance use on individuals, whanau/families and communities are very similar across New Zealand.

What other observations have you made about people and whanau on Aotea? 

We love your vibrancy – our clinicians are very excited to spend time with you and provide as much education, information and support as possible. 

What next – how to make an appointment

You can contact the CADS Great Barrier Island clinician directly to arrange an appointment, ie- you don’t need to book through the health centre.  The number you can use to reach them is 0800 845 1818. That number will take you through to CADS central and you can ask for the Great Barrier Island clinician.

Aotea was lucky enough to have a recent visit from addiction specialist Peter Thorburn on the weekend of April 13 – 14, 2024. Having broken free of decades-long addictions and a life of crime (he was a renowned meth cook) Pete took himself back to school and studied for eight years to become an expert in the field of trauma, addiction, and mental health. He hosted two workshops – one at Kawa and the other in Claris. They were hard-hitting and pulled no punches, describing the genuinely shocking nature of meth addiction – it’s lure and the damage it does.

Pete at Kawa Marae with workshop attendees

We’re hoping to get Pete back later in the year for some more workshops. Thanks to the local board for funding this visit.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing issues with meth, please see the CADs information above on how to access support.

Words by Kathy Cumming, Community Broker