Ecstasy use in New Zealand:
findings from the 1998
and 2001 National Drug Surveys

Wilkins C, Bhatta K, Pledger M, Casswell S.
Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation,
Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand.
N Z Med J 2003 Apr 4;116(1171):U383


AIMS: To examine changes in the use of ecstasy, current conditions of supply, harms resulting from use, and the demographics of users. METHODS: National Drug Surveys were conducted in 1998 and 2001. In each survey, a representative national sample of approximately 5500 people aged 15-45 years were asked about their drug use, including ecstasy use, using a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) system. Response rates of 79% and 80% respectively were achieved. RESULTS: Last-year use of ecstasy increased from 1.5% in 1998, to 3.4% in 2001. Large increases were found among men aged 20-24 (4.3% to 12.5%), and 25-29 (3.2% to 8.8%). In 2001, 43% of users thought ecstasy was easier to obtain and 29% thought the price was lower compared with a year earlier. About one in ten ecstasy users reported problems related to 'energy and vitality', 'financial position', 'health', and 'outlook on life'. Ecstasy users were predominantly male, aged 20-29, European and single, but were from a broad range of occupational and income-earning groups. CONCLUSIONS: The use of ecstasy in New Zealand increased between 1998 and 2001. Conditions of supply became easier. Users reported problems related to use in a range of areas of their lives. There was little evidence to suggest ecstasy use was limited to high-income-earning professionals.

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