Meth Becoming Widespread Issue In New Zealand

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Meth Becoming Widespread Issue In New Zealand

By Beth Leipholtz 05/09/18

New Zealanders who use the drug believe meth is cheaper and easier to get than marijuana, a survey found.

person sitting with head in hands

According to new research, meth is becoming easily accessible in New Zealand. 

According to the Massey University Illicit Drug Monitoring System, 44% of “frequent drug users” found meth easy to obtain in 2016, in comparison to 19% in 2015. In that same timeframe, the amount of people using crystal meth climbed from 54 to 76%. 

According to a Newshub report, a survey done in March by Massey University of New Zealand revealed that those using meth now consider the drug cheaper and easier to obtain than marijuana. 

Chris Wilkins, lead researcher, says that much of the methamphetamine is coming from China and southeast Asia. 

"In Asia there's been a quite massive increase in the supply... so this part of the world is really awash with methamphetamine," he said.

Wilkins states that issues with meth are especially prevalent in the areas of Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty, where no services are available to those struggling. He also says meth can be produced in greater quantities and with greater profit than other drugs. 

"It's now moved into a more [import-based] market relying on supplies from Asia,” Wilkins said. “And because of the amount of supply we've seen a real sharp increase in availability... It's in smaller towns and rural areas that drug-dealing gangs have particular control over the local drug market. That's allowed them to favor methamphetamine as a means to increase their earnings."

Due to the increase in problems with meth, Radio NZ took an in-depth look at the prevalence of the drug in the country and found that the statistics back up the observations. In fact, two out of every three drug offenders in prison are there because of meth.

“Emergency departments, mental health units and drug treatment programs are all recording an increase in patients with meth-related problems,” Radio NZ reports. “The number of people referred to Auckland’s regional drug and alcohol services quadrupled between 2008 and 2017.”

According to Wilkins, individuals using meth have expressed that it’s difficult to find help in some areas of the country. 

"The real challenge there is to try and rebalance the effort away from just a knee-jerk enforcement response to something that's more long-term and gives people options when they do want to stop using drugs,” he told Newshub.

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