Monday, July 14, 2008

Methamphetamine use stable but causing more problems

New research suggests methamphetamine use has stabilised over the past three years, but frequent users are experiencing more health and legal problems.

Massey’s Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) has released the 2007 Illicit Drug Monitoring System (IDMS), which offers a snapshot of trends in drug use and drug related harm in New Zealand.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Wilkins says frequent users of methamphetamine were more likely to have needed an ambulance, accident and emergency department, drug and alcohol worker, counsellor or GP in relation to their drug use in 2007 compared to the previous two years.

“Overall levels of methamphetamine use appear to be fairly stable but this research indicates there is a growing population of heavy users experiencing health and legal problems.” Dr Wilkins says.

Frequent methamphetamine users were also more likely to have committed violent or property crime last year compared to the 2005 findings.

“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.”

There has been some decline in the availability of crystal methamphetamine (ice), the research shows.

“This is likely to reflect the impact of some very large seizures of crystal methamphetamine made by police and customs in 2006 and 2007,” Dr Wilkins says.

Frequent drug users, interviewed as part of the ongoing research, stated that more people they knew were using ecstasy last year compared to 2006.

“The situation with ecstasy is somewhat confused by the previous ready availability of BZP party pills [now outlawed], which are sometimes fraudulently sold by drug dealers as ecstasy. Increasing use of ecstasy may also reflect the declining reputation of methamphetamine which is increasingly associated with serious psychological problems and addiction.”

The full report can be found at:
source: Massey University,

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