A new report released by the NZ Drug Foundation today shows that too many people are suffering harm and our drug laws are often compounding the problem, not reducing it.
The Drug Foundation’s 2022 State of the Nation report shows that while there have been some positive moves forward recently, including legalisation of drug checking, the numbers show that a step change is needed and that Māori continue to suffer grossly inequitable outcomes.
Executive Director, Sarah Helm, says she hopes the report prompts real action.
“The reality is, too many people are suffering harm or preventable death and our approach to drugs is making things worse or stopping people from getting help if they need it,” she says.
“No one reading this report should be happy with the incremental improvements we’re making. There are real people behind these numbers, and they require urgent action”
“Māori in particular continue to bear the brunt of our approach. This report shows we continue to see disturbing and hugely inequitable outcomes, for example two-thirds of those convicted for drug-related offences are Māori. We urgently need to change gear if we’re to reverse generations of harm.”
“It’s clear we won’t solve drug harm without serious work to tackle broader societal issues of poverty, inequality, housing and belonging. The report also shows that we need to rewrite our punitive drug laws and move to a health-based approach, work across the board to reduce the stigma suffered by people who use drugs, and introduce harm reduction measures we’ve seen work overseas like supervised consumption spaces.”
The report pulls together the latest available data from a wide array of sources, including Police, the Ministries of Health, Justice and Education, DHBs, Customs, service and treatment providers, and health surveys. It covers the country’s overall picture of drug use, harms, and responses.
Key points from the report include:
Read the full report on the Drug Foundation website, or watch a recording of the live launch on 17 February.
Survey participants also reported that barriers to accessing services, resources and information were high.
A group of powerful synthetic opioids that were first detected in the country just a year ago may have already been linked to several deaths.
95% of respondents reported positive effects, in a study that looked at both prescription and black market cannabis use.