Research into knowledge and attitudes to illegal drugs

A study among the general public and people with experience of illegal drug use

Published online: 
14 January 2009
document cover.

This research sought to understand how New Zealanders viewed illegal drugs, the reasons why people used drugs, the risks and harms associated with their use and the level of knowledge about their impacts. The report highlights public concern about drug use, confirms that people would like more information on the impacts of drugs and how to get help. The report also found that the majority of those surveyed viewed drug misuse as a community issue requiring active community support rather than an individual problem. 

Other key highlights from the report included :

  • The two drugs most commonly identified were cannabis and methamphetamine, with 94% of those surveyed considering methamphetamine to be the most harmful drug in New Zealand.
  • There was a perception that people were starting to use drugs at an earlier age and that drugs were readily available to young people.
  • Parents saw themselves playing a key role in passing on information to their children and called for accurate information on drugs, on how to identify if their child had a problem and where to get help. 

The research forms part of the development of a demand reduction programme for illegal drugs which aims to improve public awareness of, access to and utilisation of resources which seek to reduce the demand for and harms from illegal drugs.

The programme was created to respond to calls for accurate and reliable information about drugs and the harms associated with them. Since this work was commissioned the programme has been refined and reprioritised and, after consideration, the Ministry will not be engaging in a social marketing campaign. The research provides a very valuable insight into the views of New Zealanders about drugs.

Publishing information

  • Date of publication:
    14 January 2009
  • Ordering information:
    Only soft copy available to download
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