Just one hit

Harriet Bremner warns of the dangers of meth use in the dairying industry.

I have never seen it (never want to), have never been around anyone or know of anyone who is associated with it but I was blown away to find out that every single one of us knows someone who knows someone, who is a regular user of the powerful drug, methamphetamine, also known as P.

It is wrecking lives. It doesn’t matter where in New Zealand you are. This is a drug so powerful that even one hit is one too many. More readily available than cannabis AKA weed and even cigarettes (you don’t have to pay a dealer straight up),138,000 New Zealanders are highly involved in this $500 million dollar per year industry that is wreaking havoc on our people and our communities.

I have only heard people talking about the issue with weed within the dairy industry and what farmers have had to do to try and combat it. This is what scares me so much about P, that we are naive to how easily people can become hooked and how there will be someone we know who is involved in the game. It is on the corner of our streets, in our towns and highly accessible to anyone and everyone we know, including teenagers.

It is not something that requires a ‘bad’ upbringing for someone to be involved in, it is amongst people from all walks of life and it is scary to think how many of our dairy farmers could be at work while they are under the influence of such a life-absorbing drug.

In 2020, Newshub journalist Patrick Gower did a documentary on weed but this he claims was easier to talk about since it has a medical angle attached to it. However, P is disliked by everyone involved; the people who produce it, sell it and buy it. In Patrick’s new documentary on P, he says that it has taken over NZ and that putting people into jail isn’t the answer – there needs to be medical intervention to help people become free of the drug. Not an easy task because ‘P’ takes away all the dopamine from your brain for 14 months.

That first hit is 10 times the rush you get from something that gives you a natural high. The trouble is, you want more as you are desperately trying to fulfill that rush again. But it never happens again. Then you are left with nothing, nothing to give you the simple joys in life again and only a yearning for the drug itself. Psychologists call it ‘chasing the dragon’.

The harm of this drug is that it destroys everything in your life. It takes away everything piece by piece until there is nothing left. For example, NZ pays the highest prices for P in the world ($115,000 per kilo) – hence why we are referred to as the ‘Golden Nugget’ of the P industry by the Mexican cartel.

If someone is trying to fund this habit, you can see how it barrel rolls into one thing leading to another, out of desperation to buy another hit.

Another scary thing about the post-Covid-19 world of P is that due to it being harder to get supplies into the country during lockdown people started cooking their own. This was already happening but now it is happening on a larger scale and the effects on people’s health living in a P house is simply awful.

Someone can be cooking P in a house that you own on your farm and you may have no idea. If they leave the house then the next occupants can suffer from side-effects just like they would if they were smoking it themselves. Children are amongst those affected.

It makes you think, doesn’t it, that there is another world out there that could be happening on our road but we are none the wiser. So, if you have concerns about someone working on your farm, check out the places you can go for help at the end of this column.


  • Hyperactivity
  • Twitching, facial tics, jerky movements
  • Paranoia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Noticeable and sudden weight loss
  • Skin sores
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Reduced appetite
  • Agitation
  • Burns, particularly on the lips or fingers
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Rotting teeth
  • Outbursts or mood swings
  • Extreme weight loss

What can we do as farmers if we notice signs or are suspicious that a farm worker or someone you know is involved in P?

Until now, NZ has been targeting the dealers and suppliers of this dangerous drug but there has been a change of tack recently, as simply sending people to jail is not making the problem go away.

It is being recognised as a national health issue and that people need to be supported throughout their whole journey.

As employers, we need to be aware of how we can support someone who we know or find out is using P to the best of our abilities. It is a case of helping one person at a time, otherwise it is scary to think that if this industry continues to grow, how many of our children will be exposed to this drug in the coming years and how many more lives will be ruined.

  • More info: Watch Paddy Gower’s documentary: https://www.threenow.co.nz/shows/patrick-gower%253A-on-p/patrick-gower%253A-on-p/S2779-415/M46303-999

Worried that you or someone you know has a P problem? More info here: www.methhelp.org.nz/


To talk to someone about your or someone else’s alcohol or other drug use, or for contacts of your local counsellor or treatment provider, phone the free (from mobile or landline) and confidential

Alcohol Drug Helpline:

Ph one 0800 787 79724 hours a day, 7 days a week


In an Emergency dial 111


Te Ara Oranga

The Northland District Health Board (DHB), police and non-government agencies work closely together to minimise the harm caused by methamphetamine. The health component is a recovery-based treatment approach based mostly in the community.

People can self-refer to treatment or agencies can refer clients directly. The referral form can be found here community.northlanddhb.org.nz/NoP/referral/


The 5-Step Method helps affected family members where they have loved ones with addiction problems. It is one of the few methods that helps give support to family members for themselves in their own right.

Email the Northland DHB alcohol & other drugs educator for more information. AODEducator@northlanddhb.org.nz

Choice Programme – one day intervention group programmes

A one-day education programme for methamphetamine users whose use is not yet severely affecting their lives. Learning about methamphetamines, their effects and cravings and includes skills practice and developing a relapse plan to support people to reduce or stop their use.