Europe’s drug habits mapped: Study of SEWAGE reveals how narcotics are spread across the continent with cocaine popular in London, MDMA in Helsinki and amphetamines in Barcelona
- McGill University in Canada, determined which cities used the most of each drug
- The study found the rave-loving Netherlands to be the biggest user of MDMA
- Cocaine most popular in Europe, namely London, Bristol, Amsterdam and Zurich
Scientists have created a map of the world’s illicit drug habits by screening the sewage of more than 30 countries over seven years.
Testing the wastage of 60 million people for cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, were able to determine which cities and nations used the most of each drug.
The study found the rave-loving Netherlands to be the biggest user of MDMA while methamphetamine was most prevalent in North America and Australasia.
Cocaine was most popular in Europe, with the highest levels of its biomarker Benzoylecgonine which is released by the body, found in London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Zurich, Geneva, St Gallen, and Antwerp.
Cocaine was most popular in Europe, with the highest levels of its biomarker Benzoylecgonine ,which is released by the body, found
Amphetamines such as the street drug speed were found to be getting increasingly popular in Barcelona, Geneva, Berne, Zurich, Dortmund and Berlin.
However methamphetamine was not found to be popular in Europe in comparison to the U.S. and Australia.
MDMA was found to be most popular in the Dutch cities of Eindhoven, Utrecht and Amsterdam but also topped lists in Helsinki, Oslo, Brussels, Dortmund, Zagreb, Zurich, Geneva and Barcelona.
Tel Aviv, Israel, was the only city to show levels of MDMA usage in line with Europe.
Testing the wastage of 60 million people for Cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, determined which cities used the most of each drug
The team begun sampling wastewater of European cities in 2011 before taking the study worldwide in 2014.
Professor Iria González-Mariño who co-led the study at the University of Salamanca in Spain told Vice: ‘This is the largest wastewater‐based epidemiology study ever performed in terms of cities (120) and countries (37) involved and of the monitoring duration (2011–17).
‘The extensive data set obtained for cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA showed a comprehensive picture of spatial and temporal trends of use.’
Hundred of billions are estimated to be spent globally in the illegal drugs trade however the scale of the use has been difficult for authorities to determine until now.
Data surrounding public holidays was removed from analysis to avoid a spike in results from above average usage skewing data. London skyline (stock)
Historically, the global spread of drug usage has been established through a combination of seizures by authorities, public surveys, drug‐related hospital admissions and treatments and arrest data.
Data surrounding public holidays was removed from analysis to avoid a spike in results from above average usage skewing data.
Cannabis use was not included in the study due to difficulty detecting the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecule which bonds with water particles.
They also took into account prescription drugs which presented the same chemical footprint as illicit drugs when combined.
The study was published on Wednesday in the journal Addiction.