Police detainees surveyed on drug use
People arrested by police are likely to have drunk more and more likely to be methamphetamine-users than three years ago, a new report says.
The latest New Zealand Arrestee Drug Use Monitoring Programme Report (NZ-ADUM) found the percentage of people who had been drinking prior to their arrest had not changed from 41 per cent since 2010, but the amount they had drunk had increased.
The average number of drinks detainees claimed they had consumed increased from 12 in 2010 to 17 in 2013.
"For a number of years police have viewed alcohol and drugs as a driver of crime," Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said.
"The results of this survey are further proof of that."
More than 75 per cent of the detainees attributed their substance-use problems to alcohol.
Detainees in the 2013 study were also twice as likely to have used methamphetamine prior to being arrested - 6 per cent in 2013 compared with 3 per cent in 2010.
The study showed 30 per cent of the detainees had used methamphetamine in the last 12 months in 2013, compared to 0.9 per cent of the general adult population.
People arrested in Auckland were more likely to have used methamphetamine in the past year (38 per cent) than those in Christchurch central (25 per cent), and Whangarei (25 per cent).
"Police believe there is a close relationship between methamphetamine use and anti-social behaviour and unfortunately this problem has not gone away," Burgess said.
He said the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which came into effect in December would help police reduce alcohol-fuelled crime, but the community also needed to play its part by addressing its drinking habits.
The annual Massey University study was funded by the police.
As part of last year's study, 848 detainees were interviewed at police stations in Whangarei, Auckland central, Wellington central, and Christchurch central.
Overview of drug use patterns of police detainees:
Alcohol: 90 per cent of the detainees had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months. This figure had remained unchanged from previous years. The number of people who reported driving under the influence of alcohol had declined from 24 per cent in 2010 to 19 per cent in 2013.
Methamphetamine: Thirty per cent of the detainees had used methamphetamine in the previous 12 months, compared to only 0.9 per cent of the general adult population. People arrested in Auckland were more likely to have used methamphetamine in the past year (38 per cent) than those in Christchurch central (25 per cent), and Whangarei (25 per cent).
Cannabis: There was a “surprising decline” in the use, dependency, harm, and availability of cannabis in 2013 compared to previous years, the report said. It was thought this could reflect the emergence of “legal highs”. The proportion of detainees who had used cannabis in the previous year declined from 76 per cent in 2011 to 70 per cent in 2013.
Legal highs: In 2013 the study for the first time asked detainees a range of questions about their use of legal highs, such as synthetic cannabinoids, party pills, and salvia divinorum (a psychoactive plant). Synthetic cannabinoids were “by far” the most widely used legal high, the study found, with almost half of detainees having used them in the past year.
Ecstasy: According to the report, the market for ecstasy in New Zealand is “in turmoil” as a result of the global shortage of MDMA (the traditional active ingredient in ecstasy). The proportion of detainees who had used ecstasy in the previous year decreased from 28 per cent in 2011 to 21 per cent in 2013. Only one per cent had been using it prior to being arrested.