London has been dethroned as the cocaine capital of Europe.
During the week, the highest concentration of the drug in more than 50 major European cities was found in London’s sewers (999.3mg per day), EU analysts found.
But when weekends were included to provide a holistic mean figure, more coke was ending up in the wastewaters of Antwerp in Belgium.
In London, an average of 894.9mg was found per day when analysts tested the waters in March 2016. But an eye-watering daily amount of 914.8mg was found in the Belgian city, as its 130,000-plus population wrapped up the title of cocaine kings (and queens) of Europe.
London had racked up two top-spots in the EU’s European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) research in a row.
In its report, the EU drugs agency stated: “Traces of cocaine in wastewater indicate that cocaine use is highest in western and southern European cities, particularly in cities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
“The analysis points to very low to negligible cocaine use in the majority of eastern European cities.”
In the new study wastewater was analysed for traces of four illicit drugs - amphetamine, cocaine, MDMA - or ecstasy - and methamphetamine.
In most cities, wastewater MDMA loads were higher in 2016 than in 2011, with sharp increases seen in some locations.
This may be related to the increased purity of MDMA or increased availability and use of the drug, according to the EMCDDA.
It is the first time the findings from the project, conducted by the Sewage Analysis CORe group Europe, have been released in the same year as data were collected.
Director of the EMCDDA, Alexis Goosdeel, added: “Wastewater-based epidemiology has demonstrated its potential to become a useful complement to established drug-monitoring tools.
“Its ability to deliver timely data on drug use patterns is particularly relevant against the backdrop of an ever-shifting drugs problem.
“By detecting changes in drug use patterns, both geographically and over time, it can help health and treatment services respond better to emerging trends and changing treatment needs.
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