While there seems to be no respite for America from the ongoing opioid epidemic, even European nations fare no better in terms of drug use. According to a recent wastewater study released by the European Union (EU), European cities displayed variations in the pattern of drug use. The study titled “Wastewater analysis and drugs – a European multi-city study” is the largest project related to wastewater analysis undertaken by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
The study analyzed wastewater in nearly 60 European cities and towns to understand the drug-seeking habit of people. Moreover, the researchers examined the captured data of about 43 million people over a week in March 2017. The findings of the study were derived based on the level of illicit drugs and metabolites excreted in urine.
Despite health warnings, cocaine still popular
As per the results, while cocaine use was very low to negligible in most of the Eastern European cities, it was found to be the highest in Southern and Western European cities. Among all, the cities located in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom reported the highest cocaine use. Statistically, the top three cities were Antwerp (Belgium), Barcelona (Spain) and Zurich (Switzerland). As per the researchers, approximately 965.2 mg (almost 1 gram) of cocaine was witnessed for every 1,000 residents per day in Barcelona.
Among the cities that recorded the lowest estimated levels of cocaine included Finland, Lithuania and Slovakia in Northern and Eastern Europe. The report corroborates the popularity of cocaine. According to the report, cocaine and MDMA levels were found to be higher in larger cities and during weekends when users indulge in clubbing. While the Spanish city of Barcelona topped the charts in terms of cocaine use across the continent, the cities in the north and east of Europe reported the highest levels of amphetamines. The top three cities in amphetamine use were Eindhoven (Netherlands), Antwerp Zuid (Belgium) and Saarbrucken (Germany).
When it came to analyzing methamphetamine use, the drug was found to be concentrated in the east of Germany followed by Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In the rest of the cities, its level varied from low to negligible, except Cyprus where methamphetamine use has risen in recent times. The top two cities in methamphetamine use were Chemnitz and Erfurt (both located in Germany). In terms of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy use, the highest levels were found in the cities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Wastewater analysis deciphers market and reveals drug-using behavioral trends
The technique of wastewater analysis enables rapid detection of new trends related to drug abuse that helps in determining the public health programs and policy initiatives aimed at the specific groups of people. In addition to tracking the illicit drug consumption among people, wastewater analysis is a useful tool for deciphering the market drug structure and revealing behavioral trends.
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