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Ecstasy market expands according to drug report

Ecstasy market expands according to drug report

The use and availability of ecstasy in New Zealand continues to increase, though the spread of the drug is more ethnically diverse according to a report compiled by researchers examining recent trends in illegal drug use over the past five years.

The 2010 Illicit Drug Monitoring System (IDMS) report, prepared by researchers at the SHORE and Whariki Research Centre which is part of Massey University’s School of Public Health, also showed some evidence of a drop in methamphetamine use as well as a continued decline in BZP (formerly the active ingredient in party pills) since its ban in 2008.

Lead researcher Dr Chris Wilkins says 411 frequent illegal drug users from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were asked late last year about recent trends in the use, availability, price and potency of a number of key illegal drug types and about any new drugs they had come across in the previous six months.

He identified a drop in the number of European New Zealanders using ecstasy, with the proportion of this ethnic group using the illegal drug falling from 96 per cent in 1996 to 78 per cent last year. The drug’s price per pill was also down falling in the 12 months to last December from $55 to $47. Its easier availability in Auckland was reflected in a price fall from $50 to $41 over the same period while its price held at $55 in the other two main centres.

Dr Wilkins also detected a fall in the use of crystal methamphetamine (also known as ice) by frequent users speculating that its decline in usage from 64 per cent in 2007 to 23 per cent last year may be attributable to increased border security impacting on supply.

This trend was also reflected in a decline in methamphetamine use by ecstasy users from 23 per cent in 2007 to 8 per cent last year.

“The decrease in methamphetamine use among frequent ecstasy users may reflect the decline in the reputation of methamphetamine as an acceptable recreational drug among this group due to methamphetamine’s strong association with drug addiction, mental illness and high levels of drug related harm.”

Dr Wilkins says there appeared to have been little improvement in the levels of users driving under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, with 88 per cent of methamphetamine users, 86 per cent of those frequently injecting themselves with drugs and 53 per cent of frequent ecstasy users admitting to such driving behaviour.

The synthetic cannabis Kronic, which was banned last month after an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act, was among the newer drugs most commonly used by respondents to the report.


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