Aims: To examine changes in the use of amphetamines, measure current conditions of supply, and investigate harms related to amphetamine use, in New Zealand.
Methods: National Drug Surveys were conducted in 1998 and 2001. In each survey, a sample of approximately 5500 people aged 15-45 years were asked about their alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drug use, using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system. In 2001, those who had used stimulants (uppers, speed, amphetamine, methamphetamine) within the previous year were asked a number of new questions about harms experienced from use and present conditions of supply.
Results: Last-year use of stimulants increased from 2.9% in 1998, to 5.0% in 2001; use of ice (crystal methamphetamine) increased from 0.1% to 0.9%, while use of marijuana (19.9% and 20.3%) and LSD (3.8% and 3.2%) remained static. Forty one per cent of users thought stimulants were easier to obtain in 2001 compared to a year earlier, and 20% thought the price was lower. One fifth of stimulant users reported harmful effects on 'energy and vitality', while one in ten reported harms to 'financial position', 'health', and 'work opportunities'.
Conclusions: Stimulants moved from being the third most popular illicit drug type in 1998, to the second most popular by 2001. Additional research is required to adequately assess the extent of harms experienced by amphetamine users in New Zealand.