Christchurch drug users 'take whatever they can get' - report - NZH 14-07-2008
Photo / Glenn Jeffrey
Drug users in Christchurch have a take "whatever they can get" mentality, according to a report out today.
In Auckland, the "drug of choice" is methamphetamine or 'P', while in Wellington it is ecstasy, Massey University's third annual Illicit Drug Monitoring System report says.
But researchers found that Christchurch users stretched to injection of pharmacy and industrial-use drugs like the horse tranquiliser ketamine (only available from vets) , behavioural drug Ritalin (only available from doctors) , and opiates made from prescription morphine sulfate (only available from patients).
Opiates, usually morphine sulfate converted into heroin and injected, were the second most commonly used drug in Christchurch after cannabis. They ranked seventh in Auckland and fifth in Wellington. (proof the differential may be due to social and economic factors than the pharacology of the drug... doh!)
As a result, Christchurch had a large efficient black market for the drugs, the report said. (and Auckland and Wellington doesnt? - huh! )
Cannabis was still the king of the country's drugs, with the highest use and availability of any illegal substance. (the comparison is irrational... )
Lead researcher Chris Wilkins said overall levels of methamphetamine use appeared to be fairly stable, but there was a growing number of heavy users experiencing health and legal problems. (legal problems, is this a cure and is it effacious? see above!)
Frequent methamphetamine users were more likely to have committed violent or property crime last year compared to the 2005 findings, he said. (still unclear, but panders to the 'everybody knows' syndrome facilitated by a media that misrepresents the association)
Police National Drug Intelligence Bureau co-ordinator Detective Inspector Stuart Mills said the intensification of P use was worrying as it led to more crime. (it certainly has, and by all accounts it is getting worse, about in proportion to the application of prohibition, so why does he support continued use of a policy that has so evidentially failed to deliver. )
The report, an annual snapshot of the nation's drug use, was produced by interviewing 642 drug users from the three main centres.
Easy to obtain
The survey found methamphetamine was easy or very easy to obtain in its locally made form, commonly known as P, but imported "crystal" methamphetamine was more difficult to get than in 2006.
This was possibly because of large seizures made by police and customs in the last two years.
The price of methamphetamine was stable at $100/point (0.1g).
The survey, which was established in 2005 to provide information on drug use and drug-related harm in New Zealand, interviewed 110 methamphetamine users, 105 ecstasy users and 109 injecting drug users.
It found that frequent methamphetamine users were more likely to have used an ambulance, use accident and emergency departments or see a GP than in 2005.
They were also increasingly using counsellors, psychologists and social workers.
Frequent methamphetamine users were also more likely to have committed violent or property crime last year compared to the 2005 findings, Dr Wilkins said.
"Users are under increasing financial pressure, however only minorities of frequent users reported paying for their drug use with money from property crime and even smaller minorities committed violent crime," he said.
The survey found that 53 per cent of respondents had used their unemployment benefit to pay for drugs and 14 per cent had performed sex work.
On average, individual methamphetamine users had spent more than $8000 on drugs in the last six months.
When users were asked if they had experienced specific harmful incidents as a result of the drug, 53 per cent said at times they had no money for food or rent, 46 per cent had been arrested and 39 per cent had had sex and later regretted it.
Of those questioned, 8 per cent said they had been sexually assaulted.
- NZPA, NZ HERALD STAFF
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