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New Zealand's Rollin' Hard The latest figures showing New Zealand's drug habit.

The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) published its 2012 World Drug Report in July. The Report shows that New Zealanders have high usage of illegal drugs, especially, but not limited to, cannabis, and that drug use is more prevalent here than in most other countries. In fact, New Zealanders are more likely to use cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines than almost any other nationality in the world.

How prevalent is drug use in New Zealand? Estimating prevalence of any illegal behaviour is difficult. In compiling their report, the UNODC have taken the midpoint of the most recent estimates in each country. Data isn't available for many countries. These figures are the best we have, but in interpreting them, we should bear in mind their limitations. Note that the UNODC's report includes geographical units which are not countries, e.g. unincorporated territories of the United States, and the component states of the United Kingdom. I have limited this analysis to actual countries for simplicity and clarity.




Users: 14.6%  3 x all-country average.





Users: 2.6%

 5 x all-country average.



Low usage


Users: 2.1%

 3 x all-country average.


Users: 0.1%

 70% lower than allcountry average.

Low usage

Users: 0.6%

 20% lower than allcountry average.

* Jointly with Italy.

How do we compare with other countries like us?


(GDP per capita in USD)

The calculation The first step in comparing New Zealand with other countries is to consolidate prevalence figures for the five drug categories into a single number. To do this, each country is indexed against the all-country average for each drug. Prevalence of cannabis in New Zealand is 14.6%, while the all-country average is 4.9%, giving New Zealand a cannabis prevalance index of 3.0. That is, prevalence is three times higher than the average of all countries for which we have data. The five indexes for each country are averaged, giving us an overall drug use index which summarises how much more or less prevalent drug use is in that country. However, we also want to understand what sort of countries we're comparing New Zealand against. In the chart below, the horizontal axis shows our overall drug use index, while the vertical axis distributes countries $67k Macao High wealth, low drug High wealth, high drug by wealth (GDP per capita). (4 x use use Kuwait average New Zealand is one of the wealthy Australia wealth) nations which features on the right Denmark side of the chart - the high drug use Sweden side. However, many wealthy nations have avoided this pitfall and can be Canada found in the top left quadrant of the Austria Finland USA Ireland chart. Even amongst our peers, we have Belgium Singapore Japan very prevalent drug use. Iceland The impact: drug-related deaths In 2009 (the most recent statistic UK available), 26 New Zealanders died due to drug poisoning (Ministry of $33k New Zealand Health mortality causes (2 x Spain categories X41, X42, average Key: X61, X62, Y11 and wealth) Y12). 100 drug deaths/ million people The UNODC defines 40 drug deaths / million people drug-related death 10 drug deaths / million people more widely: their Estonia Where data is not available, figures include causes bubbles are not filled. Russia such as death by Kazakhstan driving under the Mexico Palau influence of drugs. No such figure is Azerbaijan available for New Zealand. However, Low wealth, Iran El Salvador with 26 deaths caused directlyly by high drug use Kyrgystan drugs, we can only presume that our $0k country would register on the global 0 2 x average prevalence 4 scale. Drug use (opiates, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, cannabis). For each drug type an Do you agree with this analysis? index of 1 represents the global average prevalence. Each country's five indexes are Send your thoughts to averaged to arrive at this figure. @TuesdaySue. A small number of countries fall outside the scope of this chart and are therefore not represented here.

© TuesdaySue; September 2012.

New Zealand's Rollin' Hard  

INFOGRAPHIC: The latest figures showing New Zealand's drug habit.

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