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No Shit: Wastewater Analysis Reveals Europe's Drug Habits

LISBON, Portugal

The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction has released a new report that analyzes wastewater from seventy European locations (“cities”) to investigate the drug-taking habits residents. The report revealed differences between day and night characteristics, tourist and business locations and provide an insight on drug flow, revealing marked geographical variations.

The project analysed wastewater in 73 cities in 20 European countries, covering a total population of around 46 million, in March last year, looking for traces of cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA and methamphetamine, revealing increases of use in several locations. No results for cannabis are reported because cannabis use is estimated by measuring its main metabolite (THC-COOH), which is the only suitable biomarker found so far, but is excreted in a low percentage. More research is needed to understand the excretion percentage of THC-COOH or find alternative biomarkers 

Bristol, the only UK city examined, was named as the cocaine capital of Europe, followed by Amsterdam, Zurich, Antwerp and Barcelona.

The wastewater revealed that cocaine use is highest in cities in western and southern European cities while use in eastern Europe was quite low.

The research, released March 14, suggests a range of factors could influence use, including affluence, increased frequency, and greater purity of product.

Not surprisingly, it would appear that drug use increases on weekends in all locations.