Posted by: scribe9 | January 20, 2010

Drug-seeking behavio(u)r

In a lot of ways, New Zealand feels quite familiar. English-speaking, First World, affluent—you get the drift. (We’ll ignore driving for now.)

One surprising difference is in drugs. Rick says even when the pharmaceuticals are the same, he’s having to learn different names. Some drugs are related but not quite the same, and there are drugs he prescribed in the US that aren’t available here, or that are no longer used in the US, but are still prescribed here. 

Meth (which they call P, from pseudoephedrine) is a big problem here, and the government’s now moving to make it prescription-only. Surprisingly, codeine, in combination with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, will still be available over the counter. The amount sold at a time will be reduced from eight days’ to five days’ worth, and people will have to ask a pharmacist for it rather than picking it up on the shelf, but in a town of any size, one could lay in quite a supply. A label will be required, warning that “Codeine is an addictive substance.” Call me a cynical know-it-all American, but this seems like weak sauce if they’re serious about fighting codeine addiction and home-baked heroin.



  1. Amy,

    You are not cynical. You are realistic.
    One of the fastest growing portions of abused drugs in the US are the prescription drugs…….codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone… having these over the counter is amazingly complacent on the part of New Zealand…..


    • A later story said that it will be behind the counter, and only pharmacists–not just anyone working in the pharmacy–can sell it. So it’s not as loose as I thought.

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