From acid to Xanax, this year's Global Drug Survey team are collecting experiences across the spectrum of drug use.  

The 2022 survey marks ten years of the Global Drug Survey, with almost one million responses collected over those years. New Zealand punches above its weight in terms of responses - last year we were the country with the second highest number of respondents!

If you're someone that uses drugs, including alcohol, you can help inform research and shape policy by taking the anonymous survey. We talked to Dr Rhys Ponton, Senior Lecturer at Auckland University's School of Pharmacy  and the New Zealand lead for the Global Drug Survey, to find out more. 

What’s the background of the Global Drug Survey? Why was it started?  

The Global Drug Survey was started as a way to gather info on the hidden masses who consume drugs but are not captured in surveys that look at drug treatment. Most research focuses on drug harms. The GDS looks at pleasure, function and how to reduce risk.  


Who runs the Global Drug Survey? 

We are a team of international experts who are passionate about making drug use safer, regardless of the legal status of the drug. Collectively, our expertise spans drugs, health, epidemiology and public policy, and together we research substance use behaviours on an international scale. 


Who uses the info gathered by the Global Drug Survey? And for what?   

The GDS data is used by a wide variety of people including the media, policymakers, governments, healthcare providers, researchers and also drug consumers for information. The data has even been included in United Nations reports.  

All our research is approved by a university ethics committee. Taking part in our research doesn’t require any information that would reveal identities and we go to great lengths to protect the anonymity of those taking part. 


What patterns did you see emerging from last year’s Global Drug Survey?   

 Last year, we saw reductions in most types of illicit drug consumption except cannabis. There was also an indication of increasing alcohol consumption. These are clearly impacts from the effects of Covid-19 on the world availability of drugs via lockdowns and reduced trafficking. Alcohol is unaffected, and use of alcohol seems to have increased to compensate for unavailability of other drugs.  


There are a few themes that are listed as key areas of research for the 2022 Global Drug Survey (e.g. drug policy, mescaline cacti, sex and psychedelics). Why were these identified as key research areas?   

These were of interest for both the identification of new trends in drug consumption, and also to broaden the knowledge base. They were identified after discussion with stakeholders, i.e. those we work with, to develop understanding of the area.  


Why should people in New Zealand take the Global Drug Survey?  

New Zealand has its own unique drug use scene, particularly due to the geographical isolation, so participation is important as data from other countries will not represent what happens here. In addition we want Kiwis to have a voice to influence change and reduce harm to others. If you've already taken the survey, thank you!  

You can take the Global Drug Survey here – it takes about twenty minutes to complete, and it's anonymous and encrypted.  

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