Dennis Makalio, a former drug user, is serious when it comes to helping meth addicts.
Speaking to Cook Islands News, Makalio said meth has been on the island for more than 16 years. “Why people here will fall in love with it? Because this stuff is for ultimate weight loss. That’s why it’s so sneaky,” he says.
“How much is it alive? Well when we gave our phone number over on the radio station, we had a number of phone calls. That’s gives me an indication that there are people who are wanting help, but people are not coming forward to be helped because of judgement.”
When it comes to dealing with addicts and finding a solution, Makalio says the frequent ‘blame and shame game’, is the wrong move.
“If you close the doors, it’s not going to work. I see a lot of people now getting deported back here. Stop playing the blame and shame game.”
Makalio and wife Liz are part of a movement that help addicts, help families and children understand the real effects of this drug, to be educated and be aware of the damage it can cause to loved ones.
They believe, that those who have been on this drug and want to come clean, are the very ones that could be the link, the connection to talk to the younger generation.
“Let them be part of a solution and not put them in a situation where you have labelled them. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem,” says Liz.
Liz said they are a movement, not education providers. A movement that developed because of the gap and frustration of not being able to get help when needed.
“There was no help. So New Zealand has whole lot of people struggling and they came together against meth.”
Makalio says for the Cook Islands with a population close to 17,000, it is important to focus on prevention and education.
“You only got three colleges here. In New Zealand you got a whole stolen generation of kids, and you don’t want that here.”
With many stating a war on meth, Makalio says: “You can’t have war on meth when its 30 years old. You’re so small (island) you can have a war on meth here but it needs to focus on a prevention and education programme at the three colleges and has to be at grassroots level.”
He says if the focus is outside prevention and education than people are just wasting their time.
“When you have prevention and education programmes in the school, you can’t just go and talk about it, you must show them, or put them in the same shoes as an addict for them to get it and understand it and that’s what works.”
The movement has a Facebook group page, that is closely monitored and is only for addicts and families. The page is known as New Zealand ‘P’ Pull.
A booklet “Methy Business” written by Liz and a number of addicts is now available, for addicts, those who are concerned about the issue, families and loved ones who want to understand more.
The booklet is for families and those thinking about making a change, says the movement.