The New Zealand Drug Foundation just created a new space to minimize drug risks in Aotearoa. Along with it is a website to keep people informed and spread positive information about the initiative.
The Foundation has given it a name, “The Level,” a safe space for people who use drugs. Here, they will be able to find appropriate support, be educated, and even have the opportunity to share their own experiences with professionals and co-users alike.
Ben Birks Ang, the deputy executive director of the initiative, said that the launch process was hastened because of the people’s needs and because of the lockdown.
Ang remarks that the COVID-19 pandemic will surely bring uncertainty and stress to many people, so having a facility where they can unwind risk-free is essential. People tend to lean towards alcohol and drugs in times like this, and the Foundation’s goal is to promote positivity and responsible handling. Most people do this to cope, something that can make them forget about all the problems and downsize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic mentally.
“The Level is designed to be a place where people who use drugs can get nuanced, judgment-free advice from experts to reduce harm and help them be safer.”
The Foundation also pointed out using statistics the problem at hand about drug and substance use. More than 1 million New Zealand citizens are prone to high-risk effects. What’s worse is that half of those won’t know if they’re experiencing the risks because they won’t encounter any symptoms.
Ang stated that they plan to narrow it down to those people to help them and potentially save more lives from drug abuse. The Level is also designed for people that are requiring immediate support.
Ang believes that tackling the problem even before it sprouts is essential. In the context of drug use, this is tough as professional support is only catered to people who are already suffering or in the later stages of the drug effects.
He also added that there’s no current, reliable information hub for people to practice moderate and safe drug use. Most people go to social media, the likes of Reddit, mainly because of its anonymity, where people won’t judge them.
“We want The Level to be a trustworthy and thoroughly researched alternative.”
Ang believes that they will bridge the gap between drug users and critical information that can help them practice moderate and safe drug use with this initiative. There’s also the added support, counseling, and community that will help someone for the long term.