Drug Use Increased During Lockdown

Methamphetamine use has increased a lot since the Delta lockdown last August. The Delta lockdown was New Zealand’s longest Covid 19 lockdown, lasting 100 days in Auckland.

Methamphetamine is an illegal drug also known as ice, or P. It makes people feel very excited and happy and stops them from sleeping. When people are “coming down” from the “high,” they feel very tired and grumpy, and may become violent or delusional. A lot of it is smuggled into New Zealand from overseas, and some is illegally made here in New Zealand.

Scientists have tested wastewater for P, and found that it more than doubled between July and September last year, especially in Tāmaki Makaurau, Northland, Waikato and the Eastern Bays. It has reduced a little bit since lockdown ended, but it is still higher than normal. There are even reports of children as young as eight using P.  

Police and social workers agree that the increased use of drugs during the lockdown is a result of boredom, distress and anxiety. For this reason, help with mental health could help to prevent drug problems. However, P is highly addictive, so people will need support for giving up drugs. It is also possible that there could be an increase in violent crime and health problems because of this increase in drug addiction.


known as: called, named

coming down from a high: the experience of an exciting drug wearing off, or leaving the body. To feel high can mean to feel happy, or intoxicated.

grumpy: unhappy, angry

delusional: living in a kind of dream; not seeing the world in an accurate way

smuggle: import or distribute illegally

illegally: against the law

wastewater: water that comes from the toilets to the sewerage treatment plant

Tāmaki Makaurau: The Auckland region

as young as (8): this emphasises that 8 is a very low number, but there is no number lower than this

distress: trauma, upset

anxiety: worry

prevent: to stop something from happening before it starts

addictive: an adjective to describe something that people can become addicted to. If you are addicted to something, you need to keep having it. For example, cigarettes are addictive.

give up: quit, stop using

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