With regards to drugs and alcohol, Maitland suffers from small town syndrome. As well as higher than average consumption rates for illicit substances and binge drinking, the infrastructure required for adequate treatment is lacking. While work is being done to tackle these issues, for instance through the Community Safety Plan written by Maitland City Council, most addicts have little choice but to look elsewhere for rehabilitation.
Illegal Drug Use in Maitland
Like most of NSW, Maitland is in the grip of an ice epidemic with the Maitland Mercury reporting that there had been a 70% increase in local arrests in 2014. Backing up this data, the Newcastle Herald wrote that Maitland had experienced 66 incidents of amphetamine use in 2015 compared with 57 the year before.
Amongst school children from 12 to 17 years old, drug use remains on or below the state average. The Regional Youth Development Officers Network (RYDON) says that 15% of students in the Hunter New England local health district (LHD) had gotten high from inhalants while 13.6% had used cannabis sometime during their lives.
The RYDON report also mentions a total of 327 drug-related offences reported by police in the Maitland LGA in 2013. The following year, the Maitland Mercury wrote that there had been 439.7 drug offenses per 100,000 population within the Maitland local government area (LGA) during the 2013/14 financial year. This trend has continued for many years with the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) calculating that, from 1997 to 1999, Maitland had a per annum rate of 22.7% of ambulance attendances for suspected drug overdoses.
Alcohol Consumption in the Maitland Area
This rural town also experiences higher than average alcohol use according to the RYDON report. Amongst school students in the Hunter New England LHD, 79.9% had drunk alcohol. Of these, 56% consumed it during the 12 months before the study. The report also showed 18.1 deaths and 579.9 hospitalisations related to alcohol per 100,000 population in the same area. Most of these occurred within the Maitland LGA with Health Stats NSW saying that hospitalisations had increased from 200 to 393 from 2001 to 2014.
While seeing how prevalent alcohol-related dangers were within the community, a Maitland City Council survey found that 13.7% of residents had personally witnessed drunk and disorderly behaviour five or more times during the two years prior. This puts alcoholism at the top of the list of most identified anti-social behaviours in the city. The results also highlighted a possible correlation between malicious damage and the trading hours of Maitland's local pubs.
Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Maitland
As it is a rural town, Maitland doesn't have much infrastructure when it comes to rehab options for drug and alcohol addiction. Newcastle, found 35km away, has some alternatives while Sydney, located 166km away, has more still.
Within Maitland itself, there is a Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) working to develop local solutions for the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol as well as any related issues. Also funded by the NSW government, the Lower Hunter Community Health Centre in East Maitland offers drug and alcohol-related services to locals requiring assistance.
Finally, the Maitland Hospital on High Street provides short-term inpatient services for those in need. However, at the time of writing, it is unsure whether these facilities will be closed down in the near future. The Newcastle Herald reports that once the new hospital opens up in Metford, Maitland Hospital will have to shut its doors.
Finding Drug and Alcohol Help Outside Maitland
The best choice for anyone suffering from addiction who is living in Maitland is therefore to seek assistance away from the local community. There are a number of programmes around Australia as well as overseas. Many of the Asian programmes are staffed by Western professionals and have short or no waiting lists.
It is also possible to pay for treatment with your Superannuation if you need to seek immediate help in a private rehabilitation centre in Australia or overseas.