New Zealand is known as the cleanest place on earth - but if you were to do a meth test, you might be shocked. Following on from our previous blog ‘The origins of meth’, is now the story of how methamphetamine has become so prevalent in New Zealand. Official figures during 2014-2015 show that around 0.9 percent of the adult population were using methamphetamine. 

For a country that’s at the bottom of the world and doesn’t have bordered access to hard drugs, the advent of meth is disturbing. However, as meth has changed through the years, it has become increasingly easier to manufacture. Some even produce it out of a suitcase with a ‘shake and bake’ approach. The rise in meth use has been attributed to our ‘can do’ attitude and using all resources to make what you need. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Kiwis are among the highest methamphetamine users globally, right next to Australia and parts of south-east Asia.

So how and when did this epidemic begin? 2002 saw the advent of meth or ‘p’ with a scary mascot ensuing. 2003 saw the headlines of Tony Dixon and his infamous Samurai Sword crime. He was known to be a meth user, and this was the cause for public disturbance. By 2005 it was available in all classes of society. Meth really isn’t picky with its victims. Originally in a pill format, meth is now commonly smoked by the user, and this in a way adds to the more ‘social’ aspect of consumption. Needles and pill ingestion aren’t as common.

One theory suggests the increase in meth addiction could be attributed to the lack of cannabis supply. However, another theory would suggest that cannabis supply is low due to the increase in meth supply. While it takes about 3 months to cultivate any kind of profit from cannabis, you can instead produce the same amount of profit from one weekend of meth production. This highlights that the profit margin from methamphetamine is far greater and therefore more desirable. 

Another reason that many turn to 'p' is that it doesn't stay in the system for extended periods of time, compared to cannabis. This is especially prevalent in job roles where heavy machinery is operated - subsequently requiring regular drug tests for health and safety. While a cannabis user will have detectible levels in their urine for up to 3 weeks, typically meth only stays in the system up to 72 hours. This can seem like an alternative to still get the 'high' without the long down-time. 

And meth is becoming easier to produce, with normal home products and off the counter products. Drain cleaner, paint thinner, coffee filters, hot plates and glass jars are used for manufacture. Many of the other key ingredients including pseudoephedrine are now imported off the black market and from China. This makes the problem difficult as the importation from China is unlikely to stop.


With high supply of meth and easier manufacture, it’s unlikely that the meth problem will cease any time soon. In this case it’s important to be proactive and aware, especially if you are a landlord or looking to buy. Meth can be anywhere, and it could just be in your property. If you have a meth contamination problem, contact Chemcare so you can be safe and be sure. 


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