21 NOVEMBER 2006
Maori Twice As Likely To Form Drug Addictions
Maori are twice as likely as all other ethnic groups to develop drug addictions, according to the results of a
nationwide study presented at the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) conference in Auckland on
Wednesday 22 November.
The startling finding was revealed in statistical analysis of ‘Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey’
and will be presented at the ATCA conference by Professor Doug Sellman, Director of the National Addiction Centre and
the Christchurch School of Medicine.
“In the raw data, it appeared Maori were actually three times more likely to have substance abuse problems than other
ethnicities, so the question was asked: how much of this result is due to ethnicity, and how much is due to other
factors?” says Professor Sellman.
Multi-regression mathematical models were used to factor in variables that could explain the disparity such as age,
gender, education, and household income.
“This analysis found that, independently of these other variables, Maori are twice as likely to have lifetime substance
use disorders than other ethnic groups,” says Professor Sellman.
“Even though the reasons for this result are not yet fully understood, it does serve to underscore the pressing need for
effective services for Maori in the area of addiction.”
ATCA conference co-organiser and CEO of Odyssey House Auckland Christine Kalin agrees.
“At Odyssey House Auckland, we see the results of this over-representation of Maori in substance abuse statistics
first-hand,” says Kalin. “We believe making addiction services accessible for Maori is of huge importance.”
Professor Sellman says that while complete recovery from severe addiction is relatively rare, recovery of a worthwhile
life is achievable by most people by substituting education or work for the addiction, forming new relationships, and
transforming the self.
“But to achieve this, people must be retained in treatment for longish periods of time to consolidate behaviour change
and skills acquisition,” says Professor Sellman.
“Two or three months is the minimum time required but six months to a year is the optimum period. The long-term, 24/7
immersion environment provided by residential therapeutic communities gives people with severe addictions the best
chance of recovery.”
The organisations hosting the ATCA conference – Odyssey House Auckland and Higher Ground – employ the ‘Therapeutic
Community’: a uniquely effective treatment model where the primary ‘therapist’ and teacher is the community of residents
and qualified staff itself.
“The Therapeutic Community provides a highly effective, 24-hour context for change in which our clients experience
consistent support and caring,” says Odyssey House CEO Christine Kalin.
• The ATCA conference will be held from Wednesday 22 November to Friday 24 November 2006 at Romfords conference
venue, Tamaki Yacht Club, 30 Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay, Auckland.
• Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and contains
the results of 12,992 interviews with New Zealanders aged 16 and over. The survey was carried out in 2003 and 2004 by a
team headed by Professor Mark A Oakley Browne, Director of the Centre for Multi-Disciplinary Studies, Monash University,