A new study combining one week’s worth of wastewater testing with census data has shown methamphetamine use is associated with socioeconomic disadvantage.
It’s also revealed cocaine and ecstasy use is associated with socioeconomic advantage.
In a study published today in the New Zealand Medical Journal based on testing in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Canterbury, researchers found meth was the most widely-used drug, followed by MDMA and then cocaine.
Researchers say this is likely because meth can be domestically manufactured, MDMA and cocaine are almost entirely imported and are less likely to be available given New Zealand’s geographic isolation, tight border controls and relatively small market.
The study by Auckland University, Massey University and the University of Queensland also found meth use in New Zealand was high compared to other western countries, whereas cocaine use was very low.
Researchers found meth use was typically higher in towns than in cities, but said meth use was notably higher in the Bay of Plenty’s urban areas.
Cocaine and MDMA tended to be used on weekends. Meanwhile, meth use was more consistent throughout the week.
Wastewater samples were collected from seven treatment plants throughout seven consecutive days from March 6, 2018, the week of the latest census.
The study said its findings could be used to help guide drug policy development.