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Bay mum inundated by cries for help from families with meth addict kids

Published in the Bay of Plenty Times.

A Bay mother who set up a support group for the growing number of parents who face "the daily hell" of living with a methamphetamine addict says she has been inundated with calls for help from all over New Zealand since the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported her story, and the local cop who is mentoring families with addicts has also received more cries for help.

When Erin O'Neill last week shared her story of how she had wished her meth-addicted son would die of an overdose to free him from the scourge, the Facebook page of her support group, Brave Hearts, went "ballistic" and in just one week rocketed from 45 members to 120 members.

O Neill had started the group to share her experience of the "long years of hell" in which her son's addiction to meth took over the whole family life.

O'Neill said on the day the story ran last Saturday her phone started ringing and didn't stop ringing until 10pm last night. Over the week she has spoken with more than 20 people who she says don't know where to turn,

"I had one 71 year old grandmother phone concerned about her P addicted grandchild.

One woman was so desperate that there could be nothing done for her daughter. Addiction services had told her that she should prepare herself that her daughter could die."

There were calls for O'Neill to start similar groups in Auckland, Christchurch and even in Melbourne.

"It just shows to me how great a need there is for more support for families."

Senior Constable Lindsay Smith aka Red who helped O'Neill has also received requests for help. The 57-year-old has been a Western Bay cop already mentors 20 Bay families whose child was addicted to meth.

This week he told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that since the article, he has taken on five more families, some from outside the Bay.

O'Neill says she will facilitate a meeting in Auckland later this month. The next meeting of Brave Hearts in the Bay is at The Local cafe in the Mount where O'Neill says she is expecting so many people she is getting worried about the size of the venue.

"I am committed to this project, though it is quite a daunting task."

O'Neill was hoping to get more long term funding to support the groups, and she was meeting with potential Bay funders later this month.

PHOTO/John Borren