Líf - og heilbrigðisvísindaráðstefna Háskóla Íslands 2021

Estimation of community drug abuse in the Reykjavik metropolitan area by wastewater-based epidemiology

Main author: Arndís Sue Ching Löve
Institution or Company: Rannsóknastofa í lyfja- og eiturefnafræði, Læknadeild, Háskóli Íslands

Co-Author, Institution or Company:
Kristín Ólafsdóttir, Rannsóknastofa í lyfja- og eiturefnafræði, Læknadeild, Háskóli Íslands.

Introduction: Estimation of community drug abuse by wastewater-based epidemiology provides insight into the extent of illicit drug consumption in both a detailed and objective way. Trends in use can be assessed with near real-time results, complimenting other indicators of drug use.

Methods: Sample collection took place regularly from February 2017 to June 2020 from two wastewater treatment plants that contribute to most of the Reykjavik metropolitan area. Illicit drugs were analyzed in effluent wastewater using solid phase extraction and UPLC‑MS/MS.

Results: A large increase in estimated cocaine use was observed from 2017 to 2019 corresponding with other official figures but had decreased significantly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both amphetamine and methamphetamine use showed signs of an increase from 2017 to 2020 with amphetamine being the dominant stimulant drug on the Icelandic market. No significant changes in the use of amphetamine and methamphetamine were observed in 2020 during the pandemic. Estimated MDMA use showed stable use from 2017 to 2020. Results showed minimal variations in cannabis use from 2017 to 2019 but signs of increased use during the pandemic in 2020. Results obtained with wastewater-based epidemiology mostly corresponded with other indicators of drug use including driving under the influence cases and seizure data.

Conclusion: Temporal trends in illicit drug use were successfully estimated using wastewater-based epidemiology, complimenting other methods. A strong indication of an extensive increase in cocaine use was observed as well as signs of changes in the patterns of drug use in Reykjavik during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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