The North Island has the country’s worst rates of drug dependency, new research has found.

Drug users in the northern, central and eastern regions of the North Island are the most dependent on methamphetamine and cannabis use, according to a study by Massey University looking at drug trends.

Of the 6100 drug users who responded to the anonymous online survey, 47 per cent of cannabis users said they used it daily, compared to just 17 per cent of methamphetamine users.

Lead researcher associate professor Chris Wilkins said the research highlighted the areas which needed the most help to reduce alcohol and drug use.

The highest rate of methamphetamine use was in the Waikato (43 per cent of those who used in the previous six months), followed by Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay (42 per cent), Auckland (35 per cent), Manawatu-Wanganui (34 per cent) and Bay of Plenty (33 per cent).

While the highest rate of cannabis use was in the Bay of Plenty (37 per cent), Northland (35 per cent), Waikato (34 per cent), Wellington (33 per cent) and Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay (33 per cent).

“While cannabis is a less addictive substance than methamphetamine, drug dependency is also closely related to the frequency of use,” Wilkins said.

Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins said the research highlights the regions where more help for substance use is needed. Photo / Doug Sherring

The Bay of Plenty and Manawatu-Whanganui were the areas where people reported to need “a lot” or “some” help to reduce either their alcohol or drug use, followed closely by the Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay regions.

Erin Scarlett, founder of charity Brave Hearts which supports families with loved ones addicted to P, said the survey results confirmed what the charity had heard from families.

“Let’s hope increased access to services for all substances are made an urgent priority in the Bay and all the regions.”

Tommy Kapai Wilson of social agency Te Tuinga Whanau, which provides transitional housing and support for local families, said cannabis was not as much a concern as other substance abuse in the community.

“Working at the front line of drug dependency and addiction there will always be a market for marijuana and on a scale of one to 10 alcohol is an eight alongside P. Synthetics is a seven and organic marijuana is a four.”

This is the second of six bulletins to be released by the university looking at methamphetamine and cannabis.

The survey ran between November 2017 and February 2018 and the average age of people who responded to the survey was 29. Pakeha made up 72 per cent and Maori made up 29 per cent.

The university acknowledged the online survey probably underestimated the level of drug dependency and need for help as it did not take into account people who had limited access to the internet such as rough sleepers.

Source: NZ Herald

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