Get to know some of the guys who’ve taken part in ReWired through their own words. You’ll also find links to resources and info to help keep yourself - or others - safe.


Nitazene notification

High Alert

Blue fake diazepam pills that actually contain a potent synthetic opioid called N-Desethyletonitazene are being sold in New Zealand.

High Alert just shared a notification about these pills, that can cause overdoses in very small amounts.

N-Desethyletonitazene is a nitazene, which is a family of very potent synthetic opioids that may have been linked to several deaths in New Zealand over the last few years.

A deadly dose is smaller than a grain of sand.

Here is what you need to know.

What should you do?

Avoid taking blue tablets, pills, or powders or fake diazepam and get your drugs checked if you can.

Drug checking is a free and confidential service that can help you find out what drug you actually have.

Overseas, more and more fake opioids and benzos actually contain nitazenes, so it is important to not assume that the drug you have is the real thing. These blue pills did not contain any diazepam at all.

You can find a drug checking clinic closest to you on our website.

If you use a drug you haven’t tested

  • Avoid using alone. Make sure you have someone with you who can get help if you start to overdose.
  • Have naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug, on hand. You can get naloxone ampoules from needle exchange outlets across the country. Remember, if you are overdosing you won’t be able to give yourself naloxone, someone else will need to give it to you.
  • Start with very small doses. Nitazenes can be deadly at micrograms (smaller than a grain of sand), so it is important to start with tiny doses.

For further details, please check the full post on The Level.


Fear of the Ogre


This experience was shared by a member of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Drug Foundation and Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.

Paranoid Magic


This experience was shared by a member of Rewired - a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine, run by the NZ Drug Foundation and Burnett Foundation Aotearoa.

After the party

How one man changed his relationship with meth

Content warning: This article discusses sex.

Nebbie* had known for a while that his use was becoming problematic. He was unable to have sex without being high, his physical health was going backwards fast, and he’d burnt through $100,000 of his parents’ money.

So, in 2019 when he saw an ad for ReWired on Grindr, it was just a matter of the right place and the right time.

“I must have looked at it on one of my bad days and decided to just go, yeah, just put your name down. And that's step one. Understanding that there was a billion steps to come.”

At that time, ReWired had just begun being piloted in Auckland after the success of a similar programme in Australia. The eight-week peer support programme is specifically for gay and bisexual men who use meth during sex (e.g. PnP) and want to change their relationship with the drug.

Nebbie had considered other support groups, but he had gay friends who’d found them uncomfortable, unable to truly share how their meth use interacted with their sex lives. But at ReWired, Nebbie found it much easier to open up.

“I felt so comfortable being amongst peers. While their stories are different, there’s a massive underlying issue of intimacy and other key aspects in life that we struggle with. I found it much easier to open up.”

When he’d begun using meth seven years earlier, Nebbie thought he’d be able to keep it in check. “My mentality around it then was ‘I don't think I'm going to be addicted. I've had it before in the past, I didn't crave it.’”

But over time the drug became a more persistent part of his life, driven by its inextricable link with sex.

Coming out and moving to Auckland from a conservative rural town had been both ‘very liberating’ and ‘very scary’. Suddenly Nebbie wasn’t alone – the city meant he was part of a scene and a community where he was able to be himself.

It also meant drugs were far easier to come by. “As soon as I came to Auckland, the availability was ridiculous!” And because drug use and hooking up went hand in hand, a lot of the time the drugs were free.

Initially Nebbie would take MDMA, a drug he says made sex feel a thousand times better. “When I was with somebody and we had MDMA, the connection was unbreakable.”

It was only when MDMA became harder to find that he moved to using meth. “Looking back, I call it an aggressive drug. It makes you more tense. As a gay man, it heightens my sexual desires. An internal thing that just makes you really, really want something. And you will do whatever you can to chase that.”

For Nebbie, meth would fuel a cycle of jacking off, watching porn, playing with toys, scrolling Grindr and finding hookups that could last up to 18 hours.

“It lasts a long time… your focus becomes very narrow. You can open the dating app… scroll to the bottom, and after half an hour looking at profiles and messaging people and saying probably some weird things… you scroll to the top and you start again.”

When Nebbie first put his name down for ReWired, the goal wasn’t necessarily to stop using meth all together. “The first step was actually just understanding it. When I understood it, I could then actually make more of a decision.”

He says that one of the key things that he first got out of the programme was identifying and understanding his specific triggers for wanting to use meth, discovering over time that some of them were identical to other people in the group.

That shared understanding meant he felt comfortable discussing his triggers in greater detail and sharing strategies for how to avoid them.

Ben Birks Ang from the NZ Drug Foundation, who run ReWired in partnership with the Burnett Foundation, Body Positive and Odyssey, says it’s the peer support that makes the programme successful.

“What makes ReWired truly successful is it provides an opportunity for people who have similar experiences to connect and support each other. This isn’t about telling people what to do. If you feel understood you’re far more likely to feel supported and to make the changes you need.”

Nebbie agrees. The best thing about ReWired, he says, is “the community, the people. I just felt comfortable.”

The programme covers a wide range of topics over the eight weeks, including the effects of meth, intimacy and connection, sexual health and stigma, and strategies for reducing harm and improving wellbeing.

Ben says that the programme is first and foremost about reducing harm. “Anyone who wants to reassess their methamphetamine use is welcome. For some people, going through the programme is about reducing or stopping their use, and for others it’s about reflecting and getting more information so that they can feel more in control.”

Nebbie says that after his first time through the ReWired programme, he started to take note of his use and triggers more consciously.

“After that, my use dropped significantly. I never had a plan to really stop back then. But… I got to understand my relationship with the substance, my triggers.”

He came back to the programme for a second round, and it was during this time that cutting out meth altogether became the best way forward. He says he realised he needed to quit when, at a particularly low ebb, he stole from a friend who was going through a hard time.

“I felt really bad about that. It got me kind of reflecting back on myself, got me realising that this is a person that I certainly do not want to be.”

It’s been almost three years since Nebbie last used meth, and since then he’s gone back to ReWired to tell his story and help support others.

“Hearing from somebody who's been through the programme and has stopped successfully for a period of time is really important for people who are at that beginning process of recovering.”

Nebbie says that one of the biggest changes is that he now thinks much more about the future. “When I used, I only saw the present. I only cared about the next few weeks. I see the future ten, twenty years ahead now.”

He’s got a supportive group of friends and he’s put his energy into a new job, where he’s been open with his boss about his story.

One of the main questions people in the programme ask him is ‘How do you have sex without drugs?’ He says that after nearly three years, his sex drive is returning to normal.

“I feel good about it. I feel like I want it. It’s not 12 hours of sex anymore, but that’s fine. It’s much shorter, but I’m happy with that.”

*name changed to protect his identity.
Safe Use

How to talk to a friend about their substance use

Burnett Foundation

Drugs and alcohol are often linked to queer events and social / sexual situations. For some, it might be occasional. For others, it might be regular. For you and your friends, it might be somewhere else on the spectrum. A lot of the time, this level of substance use is manageable and doesn’t have any major and harmful impacts on our lives (aside from the odd Terrible Tuesday…)

But that isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s a particularly relevant issues for our communities because the use of some substances such as alcohol, GHB/G and methamphetamine may lead to riskier sex.

Being on the scene™ means that, at some stage, we may suspect that a friend or partner is struggling with substance dependence or harm. It’s truly difficult to know what to do in this situation – to determine how far you’re willing to push the issue and risk impacting your relationship with them. Often, it’s easier to say nothing, particularly if their use is longer-term and synonymous with your own experience of them. Maybe it feels like they’ve always been this way.

The use of some substances such as alcohol, GHB/G and methamphetamine may lead to riskier sex.

We likely don’t have to tell you that drug and alcohol use is often stigmatized – this is something most of us inherently know and is partly why it’s so hard to talk about. That stigma not only stops people from seeking the help they need, but it may also influence our perspective of when something is and isn’t a ‘problem’.

If you are worried about a friend, here are some key things to help you navigate the situation in a way that reduces harm and keeps their mana uplifted throughout.

Note: Engaging in content related to substance use may also lead us to question our own substance use. If this happens, be kind to yourself and know that the support and resources at the end of this blog might also be appropriate for your own use.

First off, what are you noticing?

A great question to ask yourself right off the bat is “why do I think I need to have this conversation with my friend?” What have you personally noticed and experienced that leads you to believe there might be a problem?

The Level NZ has a great resource on some of the signs to look out for, including:

  • Their appearance
  • Appetite, eating habits and weight
  • Sleeping patterns
  • How they behave
  • Their mood and energy levels
  • Their personality and general attitude to life

Remember, noticing that a friend has changed in these ways may not mean there is an issue specifically with substance use. But, if they’re occurring in conjunction with a heightened frequency of substance use, or the use of new substances, there might be an issue (and even without substances in the mix, these still might indicate they need support).

Ask yourself, ‘why do I think I need to have this conversation with my friend?

It’s not your job to assess how serious the problem might be

Listen, you care about your friend and want what’s best for them, absolutely, we get it! It’s easy to feel personally responsible for what your friends are going through. But unless you have very specific qualifications, you don’t have – nor are you expected to have – the experience required to assess how significant someone’s substance use is.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act if you think they are using in ways that aren’t healthy, but there are limits to what you are responsible for. If it turns out that they need more support than you can offer, your role here should be to encourage them to seek appropriate help if they are in a space to make changes. It’s important to let the right people make assessments and decisions that are within their professional scope.

Before you go any further, assess your own perspective

We all have our personal perspectives on certain substances, based on our own histories. You may have had a family member struggle with alcohol which could make you more aware of other peoples’ use. You may have been taught certain ideas and beliefs about drugs like marijuana at school. The friends you surround yourself with will have their own ideas, and these could influence your own.

It’s very important to assess your own beliefs, biases and prejudices when thinking about someone else’s substance use to ensure that you are being as objective as you can be. A really great place to start is to make sure what you believe about the substance(s) in question is from reliable sources, rather than hearsay. If you think something is ‘bad’, how do you know that, and where has this information come from?

It’s very important to assess your own beliefs, biases and prejudices when thinking about someone else’s substance use.

Ok, so you're concerned about your friend and want to help – now what?

If possible, it’s great to do a bit of prep work before the conversation itself – but this can be daunting. If you’d prefer to just start the conversation, skip to the next section.

If you do want to take some time to prepare, here are a few things to consider:

  • Would it be most effective to have the conversation when you’re both sober, or would being a little intoxicated make it easier for your friend to open us? This will be different for different people.
  • Think about a place that will be private, comfortable, and preferably familiar for your friend.
  • Make sure you have done your research on the substance(s) you’re concerned about.
  • Also research a few support options and resources.
  • Be prepared to be wrong, or to have misjudged the situation – how will you handle this?
  • How can you keep them grounded in the moment to avoid things escalating?
  • What will you do if it escalates despite your efforts?
  • You could try practicing what you plan to say with someone else (preferably someone who doesn’t know your friend, to ensure confidentiality).
  • In the lead-up, there may be situations where they reference their substance use (perhaps in a casual way). If so, you could use these as opportunities to ask curious, empathetic questions that will help elicit their own level of awareness.

How do you have the actual conversation?

Ok, the time has come. You’ve prepped as much as you can, but you don’t really know how the conversation will go. Here are some tips to keep in mind during the moment itself:

  • Let them know you’d like to have a bit of a serious conversation – and be prepared to abort if they’re not in the right space for it. Let them know that you’re there for them if they want to talk about it in the future.
  • Listen, leave your personal opinions at the door, and approach the conversation with an open mind.
  • Respect where they are on their journey.
  • Be patient, as you may need to have the conversation more than once (but only if they’re open to it – it’s important not to be pushy).
  • Help them see how their behaviour can change when intoxicated as they may not be aware of this.
  • Distinguish between the person and their behaviour.
  • Restrict comments to what you have personally felt – make it subjective. It can be helpful to use 'I' statements here, which can also make it less confronting. For example, "I've noticed you've been drinking a lot more than you're used to" rather than "you're drinking way too much now."
  • Ask open questions which will give them space to bring in their own thoughts and feelings.
  • Remember - you are not responsible for how they react, only for how you approach the situation.
  • Take care of yourself as well and be aware of when you might need to take a break.

Listen, leave your personal opinions at the door, and approach the conversation with an open mind.

So you’ve had the conversation – what happens next?

First of all, no matter how it went, give yourself some credit. These conversations are tough, particularly with friends, and (provided you acted with integrity and respect) your friend will probably appreciate it, even if it doesn’t seem like they do right now.

If they are looking to stop or reduce their use, you can help them do this by:

  • Helping them to identify what triggers them to use (e.g. people or places) and what they can do to stay away from them.
  • Helping them find professional support.
  • Letting them know that if they aren't ready to talk about it to someone professional at that time, they can always talk to you for support.

Make sure you follow up with them after the conversation, even just to check how they’re feeling about things. Let them know they’re not alone but respect their boundaries if they don’t want to engage with you any more on the topic.

Additional resources and support

Chemsex 101

The Level

Better known as “Party ‘n’ play,” or “PNP” here in Aotearoa, chemsex refers to combining certain drugs (methamphetamine, GHB/GBL, and/or mephedrone, though the latter is mostly found in UK/EU) with sex, and is associated pretty exclusively with men who have sex with men.  

While folks of other genders and sexualities might also use these drugs for sex, there’s a long subcultural history linked to gay dance events that makes chemsex a queer phenomenon. It’s also been gaining more mainstream attention in the last decade, whether from academics and public health professionals puzzled about how to respond, or from journalists looking to capitalise on some of the growing panic.  

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is your first time hearing of it, let’s dive into some ways to keep safe if you choose to PNP.

To find out more view The Level.