A study by the EU’s official drug monitoring institute, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), analysed wastewater in 68 cities in 23 European countries, to develop a picture of how drug use patterns vary across the continent. Photo credit: KS / Brno Daily. For illustrative purposes.

Czech Rep., Mar 31 (BD) – The study of wastewater has been taking place each year across European cities since 2011. It is considered the most reliable measure for estimating the use of cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), amphetamines and methamphetamines (crystal meth) across populations, as these drugs leave easily detectable traces in urine, while other drugs such as cannabis and heroin do not. The results allow researchers to compare cities with each other, and also see how usage varies year to year. The samples were taken in March 2019 from sewage treatment plants in 68 cities around Europe.

The results indicate that the Czech Republic remains the European capital for crystal meth use, with Prague and Ostrava ranked first and second respectively for prevalence of methamphetamine traces in the samples taken. The country has long been the European capital of methamphetamine production, and the drug, known locally as pervitin, started gaining popularity in the 1990s. Prague also ranked fifth of the cities surveyed for traces of ecstasy, reflecting the Czech capital’s growing reputation as a club destination.

Prague’s counterpart capitals were Antwerp for cocaine, Amsterdam for ecstasy, and Stockholm for amphetamines. All four of the drugs included in the study showed signs of increasing popularity in Europe, but with regional variations; cocaine is more popular in western and southern Europe, while amphetamines are more popular in northern Europe. 

Worryingly for the Czech Republic, whereas the amount of cocaine, MDMA, and amphetamines tends to peak over the weekend, suggesting recreational use, crystal meth is pretty much constant across the week, suggesting addiction and problematic use. 

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