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Use of stimulant drugs hits record level

Published : 22 Oct 2020, 00:57

  DF Report

Pixabay photo.

The current year has seen temporal and regional fluctuations in use of drugs, reports the wastewater studies of the National Institute of Health and Welfare Drug (THL).

In total, the increase in the use of drugs at the population level is likely to continue in line with the long-term trend this year, said a THL press release, adding that Amphetamine is now being used more than ever before in Finland.

The use of drugs was studied in March and late spring more extensively than ever before in 27 wastewater treatment plants. In addition, the use of drugs has been monitored in the areas of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Kuopio, and Oulu in weekly monitoring since spring.

Based on the samples collected in March, the total use of amphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine was at a record high level in several locations.

For example, a clear peak was observed in the total use of these drugs in Helsinki, Espoo, Lahti, Tampere, Joensuu, Vaasa, and Kemi.

However, there are regional differences. In Seinäjoki and Savonlinna, for example, an increase in the amount of these drugs was not detected until late spring.

Weekly monitoring shows a continuous upward trend after a decrease in the late spring

Regional differences in usage trends in the emergency conditions caused by the coronavirus epidemic were observed in the sample collection, especially in late spring, when the use of drugs decreased significantly in some study cities.

However, for example, in the Helsinki area the changes in late spring remained minor.

“The combined use of stimulant drugs, i.e., amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine, decreased in all cities in northern Finland – even below the levels measured in 2018. Likewise, in Maarianhamina in the Åland Islands, drug use decreased significantly. This may have been influenced both by the restrictions imposed on tourism and by factors affecting the availability of drugs in general,” said THL Development Manager Aino Kankaanpää.

However, weekly monitoring from spring until the beginning of October shows that the decrease has been only temporary. Close monitoring found that after the reopening of the society, the use of amphetamine began to increase in the summer. During the autumn, drug use has remained at a high level.

‘The monitoring of wastewater in five cities around Finland gives an idea of how drug use has developed since the emergency conditions. Whether the trend can be seen to apply to all the 27 cities as well as the neighbouring areas will be discovered, once we get results from the extensive sample collections carried out in August and from those planned for November,” said, Head of THL Forensic Toxicology Unit Head Teemu Gunnar.