Recent trends in pharmaceutical drug use among frequent injecting drug users, frequent methamphetamine users and frequent ecstasy users in New Zealand, 2006–2009

Authors


Chris Wilkins PhD, Senior Researcher, Drugs Team Leader, Paul Sweetsur MSc (Hons), Statistician, Richard Griffiths PhD, Researcher. Dr Chris Wilkins, SHORE and Whariki Research Centre, School of Public Health, P O Box 6137, Wellesley St, Auckland, New Zealand. Tel: +64 9 366 6136; Fax: +64 9 366 5149; E-mail: c.wilkins@massey.ac.nz

Abstract

Aims. To examine the rates of pharmaceutical drug use, and level of prescription use and injection of pharmaceutical drugs, by frequent injecting drug users (IDU), frequent methamphetamine users and frequent ecstasy users in New Zealand for 2006–2009.

Design and method. The paper draws on findings from the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Illicit Drug Monitoring System (IDMS). The IDMS interviews three groups of frequent illegal drug users (i.e. IDU, methamphetamine users and ecstasy users) from the three main cities of New Zealand using purposive sampling and ‘snowballing’.

Results. Pharmaceutical morphine rather than heroin was the principal opioid used by the IDU. Few of the IDU or frequent methamphetamine users had prescriptions to use morphine. A lower proportion of the IDU had a prescription to use morphine in 2009 compared to 2008. The injection of methadone by IDU and methamphetamine users was common. A higher proportion of the IDU had injected methadone in 2009 compared to previous years. A higher proportion of the IDU had used oxycodone in 2009 compared to 2008 and prescription use of oxycodone by IDU was very low. All three groups of frequent drug users were involved in the extra-medical use of methylphenidate and benzodiazepines.

Discussion and conclusion. Extra-medical use of pharmaceuticals occurred among all three groups of frequent illegal drug users to varying degrees. Differences between the three groups in the level and type of extra-medical pharmaceutical drug use suggest that different control strategies may be effective for each group. [Wilkins C, Sweetsur P, Griffiths R. Recent trends in pharmaceutical drug use among frequent injecting drug users, frequent methamphetamine users and frequent ecstasy users in New Zealand, 2006–2009. Drug Alcohol Rev 2011;30:255–263]

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