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drug information

Drugs in New Zealand

New Zealanders as a population have some of the higher drug-use rates in the developed world, evidenced in the 2007/2008 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey, which reports that one in six (16.6%) New Zealanders aged 16–64 years had used drugs recreationally in the past year.

This drug use includes 84%of the adult population (16-64) consuming alcohol at least twice a week, and 21%2 describing themselves as smokers. In regards to illicit drug use, cannabis remains the most popular illicit drug with 14.6%3 of adults reporting past year use in 2007. Far fewer adults use other illicit drugs - methamphetamine use sat at around 2%4 in 2009, and ecstasy use at around 2.6%3 in 2007.

Young people in New Zealand are also consumers of drugs, in spite of access being restricted due to their age, or the drugs legality. 32%1 of people aged under 18 report drinking alcohol on more than three occasions in the past month, 18%5 describe themselves as current smokers and 24.8%3 (of 16-17 year olds) report using cannabis in the last year. Less common, but highly dangerous drug use in young people includes volatile substance abuse (or huffing), responsible for the death of 25 people aged under 17 in the last ten years6. It also includes the use of the new ‘legal highs’ - party pills and synthetic cannabis which are causing young people to present to emergency departments and treatment clinics with severe unwanted effects.

If we look at lifetime use, the 2007/2008 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey reported that one in two adults (49.0%) had used drugs (excluding alcohol, tobacco and party pills) for recreational purposes at some point in their lifetime, equating to about 1,292,700 people in the total population aged 16–64 years in New Zealand.

 

A snapshot of drug use in New Zealand

Illegal drugs – Past year use rate

 

Age

Drug

16-17

18-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

Total

Cannabis

24.8

31.4

21.3

10.6

7.9

3.3

14.6

Ecstasy

2.3

6.9

5.3

1.4

0.4

0

2.6

Stimulants (includes methamphetamine)

3.7

10.1

7.7

2.5

1

0

3.9

LSD + synthetic hallucinogens

1

4.4

1.9

0.6

0.3

0

1.3

Opiates

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.1

0

0.1

Prescription sedatives

1

1.7

1.5

1

0.6

0.7

1

Injected drugs

1.2

0.6

0.1

0.2

0.3

0

0.3

Note: statistics for usage rates of the new ‘legal highs’ and synthetic cannabis are not available yet. They will be included in the Ministry of Health’s next Drug Use in New Zealand survey, due for release in 2014.

Young people and drug use

Statistics about illegal drug use in young people (those under 16 years of age) is not collected in the New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey. At this stage, there is no one-source for data for young New Zealander’s drug use. Different statistics can be found in these reports:

Youth’12: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand

Smoking statistics for 14-15 year olds

Youth smoking Ministry of Youth Development (looks at 15-19 year olds and breaks it down by region, ethnicity, gender and age)

Tobacco use survey (2009) (includes information for 15 – 16 year olds)

Youth’09: The Health and Wellbeing of Young People in Alternative Education, A report on the health and wellbeing needs of Alternative Education students in Auckland and Northland

Youth’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand

United Nations World Drug Report 2012

 

Help-seeking for drug use

In New Zealand, we are aware that people want help with reducing their alcohol and drug use. The 2007/2008 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey reported that almost 5% (4.5%) of people who had ever used drugs had received help to reduce their drug use at some point in their lifetime, equating to about 58,700 people in New Zealand.

The most common source of help for these people was a drug and alcohol counsellor (58.8%), followed by a family member or friend (35.4%) and a general practitioner (GP) (30.3%).

3.2% of past-year drug users had received help in the past year to reduce their level of drug use. About 3.6% of past-year drug users had wanted help in the past year to reduce their level of drug use but had not received it.

If you would like help with your alcohol or drug use, or are worried about someone you care about, The Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797) provides free and confidential support for any person concerned about their own or another person's alcohol or drug use. When you call you will talk to an experienced counsellor who is there to listen. You can trust the helpline to provide you with confidential and non-judgemental help when you need it. The helpline is open from 10am–10pm, every day.

 

 


1 Adults & Youth 2009-10 Drinking Behaviours Report, ALAC Alcohol Monitor

2 2009 New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey. Ministry of Health

3 Drug Use in New Zealand: 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey. Ministry of Health. 2010.

4 Tackling Methamphetamine: an Action Plan, 2010. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

5 Youth aged 15-19. 2009 New Zealand Tobacco Use Survey. Ministry of Health

6 Volatile Substance Abuse – Butane Based Substances, Office of the Chief Coroner, Ministry of Justice, 2012.