The Methamphetamine problem in New Zealand


Methamphetamine is an addictive, illegal Class A drug – and it’s a widespread problem in New Zealand. Also known as meth, chalk, ice, P or crystal, it’s used by people of all backgrounds, ages and professions.

Meth is manufactured in makeshift labs, meth labs aren’t always obvious, even to neighbours or visitors and manufacturers are becoming smarter. It’s more difficult than ever to find labs, especially without the correct knowledge and expertise. They can range from the appearance of a professional chemical laboratory to a small purse you can carry and walk around with. Chemicals used to make meth are explosive, toxic, highly flammable and poisonous. Both use and manufacture puts homes at a higher risk of explosions and fires.

The effect of meth contamination on a property can be catastrophic. Not only are the contaminants easily absorbed into building materials, fixtures, fittings and household items, but anyone that comes into contact with the contaminants can ingest meth through their skin or transfer it by touch to their mouth or eyes. 


Current standards


Standards New Zealand has implemented NZS 8510:2017 Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine-contaminated properties. The standard addresses all sources of methamphetamine contamination, and aims to ensure consistency, reliability and competency in activities including screening, sampling, testing, and, where necessary, decontaminating properties and disposing of contaminated materials.

According to the new standard, presence of methamphetamine in high use areas at levels exceeding 1.5microgram/100cm2 and limited-use areas at levels exceeding 3.8microgram/100cm are regarded as contaminated.

Our service ensures that levels will be reduced to the required standard, so you can get your home back to a safe living condition.

View the Standards here. 


Health effects

Meth has severe health effects as the chemicals change our brain structure and function. Initial symptoms include dizziness, nausea, headaches and insomnia, but these can quickly escalate into psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations and repetitive motor activity. Mood disturbances can result in aggressive or violent behaviour.

Those often most affected are the families of meth addicts. Unborn children and youngsters are particularly susceptible to the inhalation of the toxic substance, accidental injection or severe consequences after ingesting chemicals.

Exposure to meth by our furry friends, including cats and dogs are equally as devastating, and can be fatal if not counteracted quickly. 



Effect on the environment


The effects of meth also have a severe impact on our environment. You’ll often see dead vegetation in a home which has been used as a meth lab, and the hazardous chemicals can ruin farmland and forests.

For each kilo of meth produced, up to seven times of toxic waste is produced. These hazardous chemicals are often dumped on the ground, in nearby streams and lakes, or buried. Toxic waste can also infiltrate drinking water.

Even after a meth lab has been packed away, the hazardous residues may remain invisible, yet pose serious health, environmental, economic and legal threats to both residents and owners.



Signs your home is contaminated


It can be difficult to detect the presense of methamphetamine in a home, but over time, it will leave a buildup of contamination on surfaces.

Only a professional meth sampling technician will confirm whether your house has been contaminated, but here are a few signs to watch out for:

  • Strong ammonia or solvent smells
  • Glass equipment and stained cookware
  • Chemical containers piled around
  • Numerous cold tablet packages lying around
  • Windows covered in plastic or tin foil
  • Portable gas tanks or cylinders not usually used in the area
  • Chemical stains around sinks and drains
  • Increased security systems
  • More activity around the home, especially at night
  • The appearance of strange structure, like lean tos and tents
  • Dead or dying vegetation
  • Customised plumbing and electrical wiring

  • Signs of squatters and homeless people inhabiting the property

  • Tenants who insist on paying in cash


Worried about someone you know


Keeping New Zealanders safe and healthy is important to us – that’s why we do what we do. If you’re concerned about a friend or family member’s health and suspect they may have a meth problem, please seek advice as soon as possible. 

Contact the meth help line here or on 0800 787 797

If you need help or advice on any meth related issues or questions, feel free to contact us. Together we can help make New Zealand a safer place.