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New Study Shows Which Drug Your Country is Addicted To
Addiction and recovery for drug use at recovering man

A seven-year project monitoring illicit drug use in 37 countries via wastewater samples shows the drugs that countries consume en masse.

The results showed cocaine use is skyrocketing in Europe in 2017, which will come as no surprise to Londoners after so much cocaine was found in the River Thames that even eels are high.

While cocaine was found in Australia, results showed that ‘Down Under’ has a serious problem with methamphetamine.

In the study, researchers from 41 international institutions released their findings after analyzing sewage samples from 60 million people between 2011 and 2017, the largest wastewater-based study undertaken in the world.

A huge 120 cities were monitored worldwide.

Researchers mapped the global use of four illicit drugs in their study – amphetamine, methamphetamine (also known as ‘ice’), ecstasy and cocaine – however the first three years were confined to European cities.

Watch: What is Addiction & Why is it Booming?

From 2014 onwards, cities in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Martinique, Canada, the US, South Korea and Israel were monitored.

The results showed:

  • From 2011-2017, cocaine levels were highest in London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Zurich. Geneva, St Gallen and Antwerp, with levels of between 600-900 mg/1000 people per day recorded. Overall, cocaine use increased by nearly 13% over five years.
  • Amphetamine loads were highest in Belgium, The Netherlands, and across northern European countries, including Swedish cities and Reykjavik in Iceland.
  • The amount of methamphetamine (ice) excreted in Australasia and North America was huge, far exceeding levels in eastern Europe, which was at the time still considered high with average levels more than 150 mg/1000 people per day. Adelaide in contrast recorded levels above 600mg.
  • The Netherlands recorded the highest mass loads of ecstasy over the seven years of the study, although increases were also reported in cities like Helsinki, Oslo, Amsterdam, Brussels and Barcelona.

The cities with the highest overall drug levels in Europe include Antwerp, Amsterdam, Zurich, London and Barcelona, while at the other end of the scale, cities in Greece, Portugal, Finland, Poland and Sweden have the lowest rates of drug use.

Outside Europe, Medellin (Colombia), Adelaide and the US city of Seattle all recorded relatively high drug levels, although Medellin’s figures were mainly due to cocaine while Adelaide and Seattle have very high levels of methamphetamine.

The study showed an 85% increase in methamphetamine seizures in Europe between 2012 and 2016, from 13,000 to 24,000.

The international market for illicit drugs is estimated to be around US$320 billion.

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