North coast drug rehab has up to six month waiting list
A NEW ice treatment centre planned for the Mid North Coast is likely to be too far away for many drug addicts in northern NSW to access.
The NSW Government has committed to opening new dedicated meth rehabilitation clinics at the Mid North Coast, the Illawarra and western Sydney.
But the head of an existing treatment centre on the North Coast said all it needed was funding to extend its services to more patients closer to home.
The Buttery runs in-house residential addiction treatment as well as outreach programs across the Northern Rivers, executive director John Mundy said.
"We have a waiting list for people coming to our facility of between three and six months," he said.
"We could certainly expand but we will need new beds. Everything is bursting at the seams."
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The organisation already owns land waiting to be developed, nearby its Bangalow centre.
"We could build on it but there's nothing in the budget for infrastructure funding," Mr Mundy said.
"If by some miracle, someone won the lotto and donated the money to build it, we would still need operational funds every year."
North Coast health workers had hoped the new amphetamine treatment centre would be close enough to pick up some of the burden on the region's existing services.
But Mr Mundy believed it would be built further south.
"My understanding that it's in the Hunter-Taree sort of area," he said.
"Of course nothing is set in concrete and these things change all the time.
"There is certainly an undersupply of treatment and anything new opening would help, but I don't think it will relieve the situation a great deal.
"They are not talking about heaps of beds at these facilities."
Mr Mundy said the money saved from treating addicts and keeping them away from crime and prison would outweigh the initial and ongoing funds the government would need to spend to allow The Buttery to expand.
"But it falls on deaf ears, unfortunately," he said.