Drug abuse expected to fall during COVID-19 lockdown as supply disrupted

A criminal justice expert says drug abuse will likely fall during the COVID-19 lockdown as supplies dry up. 

Jarrod Gilbert, director of criminal justice at Canterbury University, says New Zealand’s drug dealers will find it much harder to keep their supplies going.

“The black economy is going to be hit incredibly hard of course,” he told Magic Talk on Friday.

“Wholesale drug supply has largely dried up, airlines aren’t flying, cruises aren’t landing and freight is slow and limited,” he continued.

Distributing drugs will be much harder, says Gilbert, as even being on the street can now get you stopped by police. 

The lack of drugs means addicts will try and switch their addiction to something which can be produced locally.

“There isn’t much except alcohol, so we may see an increase in consumption,” said Gilbert.

If people start drinking more there could be some terrible consequences.

“If people start consuming more alcohol things like domestic violence or violence, in general, may start to increase, so there may be consequences down the track.”

His advice for people who may be struggling with addiction is to look at the lockdown period as an opportunity.

“If you have got an addiction, see this as an opportunity to come clean, you don't have the negative influence from peers, and you can think ‘maybe I can make myself a better person’”. 


Domestic violence charities will remain open throughout the duration of the lockdown. 

Agencies supplying essential services like food and safe houses want New Zealanders to know they are still available - and if you have a colleague, neighbour or friend who you think is in trouble, to get in touch. 

Where to find help and support: 

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584