The latest edition of our annual report on how New Zealand is dealing with drugs and drug harm is out now.
It pulls together the most recent data from a wide array of sources. We hope it will provide a useful baseline for the public, media, health sector and policy makers to debate and develop the solutions we need to see an Aotearoa free from drug harm.
There are important stories and trends contained in this report that need our urgent attention. As with every other aspect of our lives in recent years, the story of drugs and drug use in Aotearoa has been coloured by the presence of Covid-19. So we've tried to make it clear when the data may have been affected by lockdowns, border disruptions etc.
We've tried to extract the most useful data and present it in a way that it's easily understood, but please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
Most New Zealanders use alcohol and other drugs, but Māori suffer grossly unequitable outcomes in almost every aspect of this report.
Alcohol is still by far the most widely consumed drug and causes the most harm, with 19.5% of adults drinking in a way that’s likely to cause them harm.
Methamphetamine use remains relatively steady, but its impacts on different communities vary greatly. Women living in our poorest neighbourhoods are 18 times more likely to use amphetamines (including methamphetamine) than women living in the wealthiest neighbourhoods, but our one-size-fits-all approach to the drug doesn’t take these differences into account.
An estimated 94% of those using cannabis for medicinal purposes, 266,700 people, are still accessing the drug through the black market.
The year ended 30 June 2021 saw the lowest number of charges and convictions for drug offences in the past ten years. However, several thousand people are still convicted of possession offences each year.
This is our fourth State of the Nation report. You can download the previous editions here:
State of the Nation 2020 [PDF 1.94mb]
State of the Nation 2019 [PDF 3.4mb]
State of the Nation 2018 [PDF 5.4mb]
People use alcohol and other drugs for many reasons.
Some of these reasons include pleasure and recreation, spiritual discovery, performance enhancement, experimentation, peer pressure or to self-medicate physical problems, emotional pain or trauma.
MOST DRUG USE IS NOT HARMFUL
While it’s safest not to use alcohol and other drugs, most people are not harmed much, or at all, by their use.
DRUGS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS HARM TO SOME
For a small group of users, drug use – whether legal or illegal – can cause significant harm. Harms include illness, injury, addiction and even death, with the effects borne by whole communities.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE STRUGGLE WITH DRUGS AND ALCOHOL?
The likelihood of harmful use patterns developing depends on a range of social, cultural and genetic factors. Although chemical addiction can play a part, more significant factors contributing to substance use disorders are trauma and abuse, mental health problems, stress, poverty, and housing insecurity. As a result, the most disadvantaged are often the worst affected.
Māori, Pacific people, and people living in the poorest neighbourhoods are more likely to experience harm from their own alcohol or drug use, and are most likely to want help with their drug use but not receive it.
11 November 2022
Commentator Russell Brown takes a look at the ACT's road to decriminalising drug possession, and asks what New Zealand could learn.
30 September 2022
Drug Foundation Communications Advisor Feilidh Dwyer visits a thought-provoking MDMA pop-up shop in Utrecht.
04 July 2022
Drug Foundation executive director Sarah Helm discusses recent fentanyl overdoses in Wairarapa and how we can avoid fentanyl deaths in futur...
26 June 2022
The polling shows support for removing criminal penalties and increasing education, treatment, and other health-based approaches.
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