What´s going down the sink? Spain´s wastewater shows high levels of illicit substances

Spain´s wastewater tells a story/Shutterstock Images

A study published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Wednesday March 22 “paints a picture of a drugs problem that is both widespread and complex,” with Spain in the forefront of evidence for recreational drug use.

The project analysed wastewater in a record 104 European cities from 21 countries (20 EU + Türkiye) to explore the drug-taking behaviours of their inhabitants. Ketamine was included in the analysis for the first time in this test, bringing the total number of substances examined to six.

Across Europe, the latest study looked at daily wastewater samples in the catchment areas of wastewater treatment plants over a one-week period last year between March and April. Wastewater samples from some 54 million people were analysed for traces of six illicit drugs (cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy and ketamine) as well as cannabis.

Spain ranked as one of the countries in the EU with highest readings for cocaine in wastewater, alongside Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands.

Spain also came in the top five countries for the presence of cannabis, ketamine and MDMA. Methamphetamine has also made a relevant appearance in Spain.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director says: “Wastewater samples can tell revealing stories about the lives of a community and can provide an early warning of emerging health threats. Today’s findings, from a record 104 cities, paint a picture of a drugs problem that is both widespread and complex, with all six substances detected in almost every location. Now an established science, wastewater surveillance provides us with increasing insight into the dynamics of drug use and supply. We are also encouraged by its growing potential for targeting and evaluating localised public health responses and policy initiatives.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.