Limassol has been ranked in 8th place out of 56 European cities for use of methamphetamines, twice as high as Nicosia, according to a study of wastewater samples taken by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
The sewerage water in the cities concerned was tested in March 2017 for cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine and ecstasy but not cannabis, which will be subject of a second study.
Through sampling prior to water treatment, scientists can estimate the quantity of drugs consumed by a community by measuring the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites excreted in urine.
Key findings in 2017 revealed a picture of distinct geographical and temporal patterns of drug use across European cities. The results indicated that cocaine use is highest in western and southern European cities, in particular in cities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Wastewater analysis indicates that cocaine use is very low to negligible in the majority of eastern European cities.
The loads of amphetamine detected in wastewater varied considerably across study locations, with the highest levels reported in cities in the north and east of Europe. Amphetamine was found at much lower levels in cities in the south of Europe.
“In contrast, methamphetamine use, generally low and historically concentrated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, now appears to be present also in Cyprus, the east of Germany and northern Europe. The observed methamphetamine loads in the other locations were very low to negligible,” said the report.
In fact Limassol was in 8th place when it came to methamphetamine use. The figure, based on milligrams per 1000 people produced was twice as high as what was found in Nicosia.
The highest mass loads of ecstasy were found in the wastewater in cities in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
In addition to geographical patterns, wastewater analysis can detect fluctuations in weekly patterns of illicit drug use. More than three-quarters of cities showed higher loads in the wastewater during the weekend – Friday to Monday – than during weekdays. In contrast, amphetamine use was found to be distributed more evenly over the whole week.
Another conclusion reached was that higher consumption of the four drugs was recorded in cities that combine the existence of universities and nightlife, involving mainly young people aged 18-25.
According to the study, a relatively stable picture of cocaine use was observed between 2011 and 2015 in most cities. In 2016, there were initial signs that this pattern was changing with 22 out of 33 cities with data for 2015 and 2016 reporting an increase. This was confirmed in 2017, with 19 out of the 31 cities with data for 2016 and 2017 reporting an increase in the loads found. Most of the 13 cities with data for 2011 and 2017 report increasing longer-term trends.