A DTU graduate talks to fellow participants.

On Friday 26 October, Otago Corrections Facility’s Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated its 100th Drug and Alcohol Programme with the graduation of a further 10 prisoners.

National Commissioner Ben Clark, and Regional Commissioner Chris O’Brien-Smith, CareNZ's Gill Hood, prison staff, unit volunteers and supporters attended the significant event and celebrated the achievement with graduates and other programme groups.

“The 100th graduation is a significant milestone for Corrections, CareNZ and the partnership between our two organisations,” says Chris O’Brien-Smith.

“This achievement is particularly significant for every one of the 940 men who have now graduated this group-based programme at OCF, their whanau and their communities.”

More than two-thirds of prisoners have an alcohol or drug dependency, and this is a factor in more than 50 percent of crimes in New Zealand. Additionally, it is a major cause of family violence.

Drug treatment units (DTU) teach prisoners about addiction, change, relapse and the effects of their actions upon others. Prisoners who have successfully completed a course in the DTU gain the skills and techniques that will aid them in remaining alcohol and drug free, and in recognising trigger points in their lives that could cause them to relapse.

“The understanding, skills and confidence to move away from drugs and alcohol dependency will enable these men to live very different lives on release,” says Chris, “lives not driven by substance abuse and the associated violence and crime of their past.”

* Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is common among offenders. Sixty per cent of community-based offenders and 87 per cent of prisoners have identified AOD issues. Alcohol and drugs are often factors in their offending, and can inhibit their success in rehabilitation programmes.

In 2017/2018, around 1,100 offenders completed intensive alcohol and drug treatment programmes. Corrections are also investing $8.6 million, as part of a $21 million package, to provide more consistent alcohol and drug aftercare support to prisoners.