No-one who viewed coverage of the widely staring eyes of Antonie Dixon in court, following his rampage with a samurai sword while high on methamphetamine, is likely to forget it. Yet 14 years on, the issue of methamphetamine – or “P” – is more prevalent in our society today than ever before.
It now rivals alcohol in the addiction stakes and has resulted in over-flowing rehabilitation centres, and increasing destruction within our communities. There is no acceptable safe level of use, no predictable pattern of behaviour to those using or withdrawing from “P”, and no safe exposure to children.
The drug has now been around long enough that the issue is intergenerational. As a family lawyer, it is not uncommon for methamphetamine to be implicated in almost every case concerning children before the Court. And increasingly, proceedings are being brought by grandparents who not only witness their children’s disintegration from the ravages of “P”, but their wrath when they intervene to protect their grandchildren.
The alternative is to risk intervention from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children – Oranga Tamariki, whose response leaves some grandparents feeling as if they have little choice other than to take legal action in their own right.
More and more applications for Parenting Orders (or what were previously known as Custody Orders) are made by grandparents to protect their mokopuna, and it is clear that the issue transcends all socio-economic norms.
The courts are generally supportive of protective steps taken by family members, but that doesn’t make it easy. Often this is the applicant’s first encounter with a court, so securing the right advice and the right support is crucial.
In some instances, funding can be sought for family members to assist with proceedings to protect the children of those using or addicted to methamphetamine.
Support groups are also available – Brave Hearts NZ is one example of a local Tauranga support group established to educate and inform those who have family members addicted to drugs. It was founded by a parent who had experienced all of the pain involved, and they now hold regular and confidential meetings within Tauranga.
For more information about Brave Hearts NZ visit their facebook page here.
It is important to recognise that addiction to methamphetamine within families is not an isolated issue and should not be an isolating one.
If you wish to make an appointment for legal advice, please phone us on (07) 578 5033.