The price of P

HIGH PRICE: A Massey University study has put P use in the spotlight
HIGH PRICE: A Massey University study has put P use in the spotlight

A recent Massey University report into New Zealand's methamphetamine habits has revealed that nearly a third of all P users have jobs.

The report, released in September, found that 37 per cent of users were employed, but that 52 per cent of them took sick leave because of their drug habit, which in 2004 cost Kiwi businesses $48,000 for every user in their work force.

"It's a huge problem. It costs them in absenteeism, theft, fraud and potential health and safety issues," Methcon Group head Dale Kirk said.

The Massey report found that 37 per cent of users committed fraud.

Mr Kirk – a former drug squad detective who recently took over Methcon, a company that educates users and works to get them off the drug – was working with employers and managers to educate them about drug use among their employees.

His team also spends time working with young drug users for Child Youth and Family and Housing New Zealand tenancy managers, and spends time in schools educating pupils about the effects of drug use.

"It's about reducing demand for the drug instead of focusing on trying to stop the supply, which is what the police do," he said.

Mr Kirk also trained court bailiffs who completed an educational course on methamphetamine laboratories, which led to the uncovering of one of New Zealand's largest drug busts during a routine document delivery.

"They discovered it because they knew what to look for. If they didn't know what to look for it probably wouldn't have been found," he said.

He believed larger companies had been quicker to adopt drug and alcohol policies and education in workplaces than many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who lacked the time to put into it.

"SMEs have missed out on this training because of their structure; they can't afford to take their work force out for a day," he said.

"For every drug-using employee they have in the workplace it's costing them money.

"It's a liability."

Manawatu Standard