Kiwis are being encouraged to get honest about their drug use, from the dangerous aspects through to pleasurable, to help inform better drug policy worldwide.
As part of the Global Drug Survey 2019, a team of researchers led by UK-based addiction specialist Dr Adam Winstock, are on a mission to get people talking about drug issues that are often ignored in traditional research or government policy.
"It's about thinking about things that are just so part and parcel with the drug experience – things that we don't really ask questions about, like whether you trust your drug dealer."
Each year the Global Drug Survey collects information from more than 100,000 people around the world with its goal to make drug use safer, regardless of whether the substances are legal or not. You can take the Global Drug Survey 2019 here.
Once the information is collated, it's used for everything from drafting academic papers, to warning health organisations about emerging drug trends, and making resources for the general public.
NZ Drug Foundation Ross Bell said his organisation always enjoyed the survey's ability to pit the experiences of New Zealand drug users against others around the world.
The main example that came to mind was the use of synthetic drugs, mainly synthetic cannabis, where Kiwis' habits were found to be quite unique.
"That kind of intel can be really helpful," Bell said. However, he noted that while information was powerful, worldwide, things appeared to be worsening.
"It's different in different parts of the world but things do seem worse and governments are really struggling with how best to respond to this.
"They seem paralysed about what to do because it's overwhelming and I think that fundamentally highlights that our approach to drugs for decades has meant we don't have the right resources or interventions to deal with this from the health perspective."
Drug policing and how drug laws are applied unequally within countries is a key topic in this year's survey with Winstock and Dr Caitlin Hughes from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Australia already having found some surprising statistics.
"We found people who use drugs were 4.8 times more likely to encounter police if they lived in Italy or Scotland, than if they lived in New Zealand," their report said.
Winstock said he was looking forward to seeing if the survey results reflected those figures.
"I think that's going to have an impact on how people actually trust their police more broadly. If people don't trust them and don't report crimes, that's a really bad thing."
While cannabis and its legal status were set to be a hot topic once again, the data around those using synthetic cannabinoids was likely to be lacking.
"The people who are at the most risk of using synthetic cannabinoids don't do our survey – they're homeless, marginalised, vulnerable people so it's difficult to find the people who love it and why," Winstock said.
Global Drug Survey Link: https://infogram.com/1pnje9xg1mzvzpsz6dl9jrdqv7im960x5m5
Back to news / blog