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New early intervention programme helps ‘The Missing Middle’ manage alcohol and drugs

PIVOT by Explore, a new early intervention programme specifically designed for New Zealanders who are not addicts but who struggle with the impact alcohol and drugs is having on their daily lives, has launched.

Ray Finch, General Manager of leading wellbeing organisation Explore, said that by offering the right type of support at the right time to the people who need it, PIVOT aims to address an urgent and significant unmet need.

“An estimated 1.2 million adults in New Zealand are at risk of their alcohol and drug use becoming problematic. These are people we commonly refer to as the missing middle – they’re not classified as addicts or they haven’t yet reached what we’d consider ‘rock bottom’, but their substance use is causing issues.

“Left unsupported, we know that alcohol and drug misuse can have far-reaching consequences – on the individual, their families, whānau, friends and communities.

“PIVOT, which is an 8-week, evidence based, holistic early intervention service, provides a tailored pathway to support the individual and help them take back control over their daily lives and reduce the debilitating impact of substance misuse, before it’s too late,” said Mr Finch.

In sharing his journey to recovery, Mitch Ingram explains how he believes an early intervention programme could have helped him before drugs took over his life:

“I knew I needed help. My [former] wife reached out to a couple of places, but the one hour per week I received didn’t help at all – there was no consistency and no connection with the stranger at the other end of the phone. I was told I wasn’t bad enough, and when you’re told this, you want to believe it, but in reality, I couldn’t have got any lower than how I was feeling. I was ruining my marriage, my job, and my life.  I was one of the neglected – I was a missing middle!

“There are so many people who are at the top of the slippery slope towards addiction, but sadly there’s not enough services or the right type of services available to treat the underlying reasons for misusing alcohol and drugs. Importantly we need to offer a holistic approach with wraparound support because for me, using drugs was the last piece of the puzzle, not the first.

“Most people don’t want to have to use alcohol and drugs to make themselves feel better or get through the day. I desperately wanted to wake up and not have that feeling – I wanted to enjoy my children, enjoy going to work again and enjoy laughing, but I couldn’t because everything was so painful.

“The earlier we can help the better. It’s important to acknowledge that we’re not going to help everybody, but it has to be better than helping no-one.”

Ray Finch adds “By shifting our focus to early prevention we can help address the underlying complex needs before the use of alcohol or drugs escalates into addiction, which requires acute treatment, and often an emergency response. Through early intervention, individuals have a greater opportunity to regain control, build resilience, and make healthier choices,” said Mr Finch.

“We’ve based PIVOT on the Te Whare Tapa Whā model of wellbeing. It is a comprehensive and personalised approach that supports individuals in overcoming their substance use challenges and improving their overall well-being.

PIVOT’s multidisciplinary team of licensed therapists, addiction specialists, and mental health professionals will work collaboratively to provide tailored interventions and resources. The programme includes one-on-one counselling, support groups, psychoeducation, and relapse prevention strategies, ensuring a comprehensive and individualized approach to support participants on their journey to recovery and better wellbeing.

For more information, please visit the PIVOT website.