Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about who we are and what we do. You can also find out more through the 'About Us' page.
If you have any feedback or other questions, let us know using our contact form.
If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 111.
Frequently Asked Questions
High Alert is New Zealand’s Drug Early Warning system. It’s run by Drug Information and Alerts Aotearoa New Zealand (DIANZ). High Alert aims to provide information to the public to help reduce drug harm in communities, including issuing alerts and notifications for particularly dangerous or contaminated drugs.
High Alert is supported by a network of health professionals and social services (both Government and Non-Government Organisations), including KnowYourStuffNZ, New Zealand Drug Foundation, the New Zealand Needle Exchange Project, St John New Zealand, Wellington Free Ambulance, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).
Not the way you're thinking. High Alert is run by Drug Information and Alerts Aotearoa New Zealand (DIANZ), which is a function of the National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB). It is a multi-agency effort by Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health, New Zealand Customs, and New Zealand Police. Information provided to High Alert isn’t used for enforcement purposes.
High Alert acts as a vehicle for greater sharing of information amongst various organisations. A range of anonymised information sources provide input to DIANZ, including:High Alert acts as a vehicle for greater sharing of information amongst various organisations. A range of anonymised information sources provide input to DIANZ, including:
- Existing NDIB sources
- Network partner sources
- Drug checking samples
- Public reporting
The information gathered is put through a standardised analysis process that leverages international best practice for harm reduction.
High Alert assess a range of anonymised information sources. Information gathered is put through a standardised analysis process that leverages international best practice for harm reduction.
The results of this process will determine if a high-risk situation exists, which will result in an alert or notification being issued and published on the website.
High Alert also works with partners to ensure they have accurate information to provide helpful harm reduction advice to their communities.
An alert is reserved for only the most urgent and serious information. This is issued in situations where there is immediate risk of serious and widespread harm, and where there is a high chance that timely advice can reduce harm.
For example, multiple deaths and/or hospitalisations related to a particular substance could trigger an alert to warn the community of the risk and prevent further harm.
See what alerts have already been issued here.
A notification is used to convey information that is important for harm reduction but is not deemed as critical as an alert because the risk of harm is less severe.
For example, there could be a misrepresented substance in the community where very little is known about the substance, but it is being sold as something else. As a result, a notification could be issued to ensure people are aware of potential harm.
See what notifications have already been issued here.
If you have more information about something mentioned in an alert or notification, you can let us know by completing the form on the ‘Report unusual effects’ section of the website and including the Alert ID found at the top of the alert/notification page.
If you are experiencing unexpected or concerning effects, or think a substance you or a friend took is actually something else:
- Don’t take anymore.
- Don’t take other drugs or drink alcohol.
- Seek medical advice.
Always call 111 if someone:
- is unconscious;
- stops breathing;
- has a seizure;
- is extremely agitated for longer than 15 minutes;
- has chest pain or breathing difficulties for longer than 5 minutes.
When you are safe, please tell us about your experience through the ‘Report unusual effects’ page on highalert.org.nz, even if it’s not clear that a particular drug caused the bad experience. It’s completely confidential and can be provided anonymously if preferred.
Reports helps keep others safe.
Accurate and timely reporting of unexpected or concerning effects provides important information for research and will ultimately help keep others safe.
The drug specific detail of the information reported may be used as part of data analysis to help identify dangerous activity and trends. This helps High Alert to understand what drugs are currently available across the country and helps us provide information and alerts to the public.
No. High Alert is not an enforcement agency and the information shared will never be used for prosecution.
Yes, all reports are confidential and can be provided anonymously if preferred. Personal information will not be shared and will not be used to pursue prosecution against anyone making a report.
You can report any unexpected or concerning effects through the ‘Report unusual effects’ page - provide as much detail as possible.
We encourage you to report any medical event or health problem that occurs after taking an illicit substance. An example could be unexpected hallucinations, or feelings of numbness. Report any unexpected or concerning effects even if you are not sure if it was as a result of the substance.
Please provide as much information as possible, including drug appearance, amount taken, the effects and how long it lasted.
The National Poisons Centre is available 24/7 to help members of the public and healthcare professionals with clinical advice for exposures to any substance - please call 0800 764 766 (0800 POISON).
If you would like to receive updates, please sign up via the ‘Subscribe to updates’ page and select the ‘I am a healthcare professional’ option to be added to our contact list.
You can also get in touch through the ‘Contact us’ page to request more information or share any insights you may have.
Drug checking is a free, legal and confidential service that checks the safety of drugs by using a spectrometer and reagent tests. Drug checking is the most reliable way to see what is in your drugs in New Zealand and helps people to make more informed decisions about what they use.
Currently, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), KnowYourStuffNZ, the NZ Drug Foundation and the New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme are legally able to provide drug checking services. You can find out where the next drug checking clinic is happening here or through these organisations’ social media channels.
Drug checking services are confidential, meaning they won't take any of your personal details and they are not able to take your drugs off you.
No, High Alert does not offer drug checking. We work closely with drug checking organisation who share their findings with us. These organisations include KnowYourStuffNZ, New Zealand Drug Foundation, New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR).
A calendar of upcoming drug checking clinics can be found here.
More information on drug checking, and what to expect of you go to a drug checking clinic, can be found here thanks to our partners at The Level.
If you’re worried about your own, or a loved one’s, drinking or drug taking, reach out to the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You'll be able to speak with a trained counsellor, who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential.
You can also chat to the Alcohol Drug Helpline team online through the website, or:
- Call the Māori Line on 0800 787 798 for advice and referral to kaupapa Māori services.
- Call the Pasifika Line on 0800 787 799 for advice and referral to services developed for Pacific people.
- Call the Youth Line on 0800 787 984 for advice and referral to services for young people.