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ACC commissions injury research on metamphetamine

ACC commissions injury research on metamphetamine use

The Accident Compensation Corporation has commissioned research to identify injuries associated with metamphetamine use—one of the few studies of this nature to be undertaken in New Zealand. Methamphetamine is an addictive stimulant drug commonly referred to as “speed”, “meth” and “chalk” which has more potent forms known as “P”, “ice”, “crystal” or “glass”.

ACC’s General Manager (Research and Corporate Services) Dr Keith McLea says Auckland University researchers have been commissioned to determine the impact of metamphetamine-related injuries on the ACC scheme, and whether there are any preventative strategies that can be undertaken. Dr McLea says research work is already underway, with a systematic literature review to examine injury and other harm associated with metamphetamine use due for completion next month.

“Metamphetamine use in the United States has reached epidemic proportions,” Dr McLea said, “while, anecdotally, use of the drug in New Zealand and Australia appears to be increasing. The limited injury data available in New Zealand doesn’t seem to differentiate between metamphetamine and abuse and misuse of other stimulants.”

“Injures associated with metamphetamine use include those to the user and those associated with the ‘backyard’ manufacture of the drug,” he said. “The chemicals used in the processing are highly toxic, inflammable, corrosive and explosive. It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation, even anecdotal, between exploding metamphetamine laboratories and the hospital admission of burns patients.”

The research will also involve interviewing the health and safety workers who interact with people who use metamphetamines, to examine their perceptions of injuries associated with use of the drug, and to identify injury prevention opportunities. The research will also include interviews with self-identified users of the drug, to examine the extent and severity of injuries that may have resulted in ACC claims. A small survey (of about 200 people) will also be undertaken of those who frequent nightclubs, as a pilot test for a larger population based survey examining injuries associated with metamphetamine use. The researchers are due to report their findings in May next year.

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