Drug researchers at the Auckland-based Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) have released a report into Recent Trends in Ilegal Drug Use in New Zealand, 2006-2009.
It was co-authored by Dr Chris Wilkins, Dr Richard Griffiths and Paul Sweetsur from SHORE which is part of Massey’s School of Public Health.
Dr Wilkins says the research is based on interviews late last year with 315 frequent illegal drug users from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The drug users who comprised 105 methamphetamine users, 111 frequent ecstasy users and 99 who regularly injected drugs, were asked about recent trends in the use, availability, price and potency of different illegal drug types and also about any new drugs they had encountered in the past six months. Interviews were largely complete before the announcement of the Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan aimed at confronting dangers with the drug, in October 2009.
The increase in the price of methamphetamine (also known as P) appeared to be the result of some very large seizures of the drug and pseudoephedrine, Dr Wilkins says.
“We found the price of a gram of methamphetamine rose from $610 in 2006 to $738 in 2009.”
At the same time researchers confirmed a steady rise in the number of frequent drug users injecting methamphetamine.
“This is a great concern as intravenous administration of methamphetamine can greatly increase the problems related to methamphetamine use and also lead to health problems associated with intravenous drug use including the spread of blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis C and HIV,” Dr Wilkins says.
Evidence was also found that one drug, LSD, which appeared to be in decline following the arrival of methamphetamine as well as ecstasy, was staging a revival.
“There was a decade record amount of LSD seized in 2009. Ecstasy users may choose to use LSD out of frustration with the decline in potency of ecstasy. LSD use has been linked to mental health problems and increased risk of serious injury for users under its influence.”