​Bristol Named Cocaine Capital Of Europe Following Sewage Study

Bristol has been named the cocaine capital of Europe in a new study. How did researchers find out, exactly? Why, from the sewage, of course.

The project saw experts examine wastewater in cities across Europe to analyse the continent's drug-taking habits, testing samples for benzoylecgonine (BE) - which is produced when the body breaks down the class A substance.

While London's wastewater has topped the chart in the past, this year Bristol was the only UK city participating - taking one for the country by nabbing the, er, coveted number one spot, beating the likes of Amsterdam, Zurich, Antwerp, Barcelona, Paris and Madrid.

Amsterdam was second on the list. Credit: PA
Amsterdam was second on the list. Credit: PA

A report on the research, published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, said: "The BE loads observed in wastewater indicate that cocaine use remains highest in western and southern European cities, in particular in cities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Very low levels were found in the majority of the eastern European cities studied, but the most recent data show signs of increases."

The research was conducted in March last year, looking at wastewater in 73 cities in 20 European countries, in turn covering a total population of around 46 million.

The average daily concentration of benzoylecgonine in Bristolian wastewater was 969.2mg per 1,000 people in 2018, meaning levels were up from 754.7mg in the previous year.

Amsterdam recorded the second-highest figure with 932.4mg, followed by Zurich (856.0mg), Antwerp Zuid (771.8mg) and Barcelona (733.2mg).

Cocaine. Credit: PA
Cocaine. Credit: PA

In addition to cocaine, the wastewater was examined for traces of MDMA, amphetamine and methamphetamine.

The 2018 findings indicated that use of MDMA and cocaine rose sharply at weekends in most cities, which will no doubt come as a surprise to absolutely nobody.

The research also put forward a range of factors that could be influencing any increase in traces of cocaine.

"While it may indicate that more people are consuming cocaine, it may mean that there is greater use of cocaine by the same people," the report said.

"Alternatively, it may simply reflect the increased purity of cocaine in Europe, leading to increased metabolite detection in wastewater.

"This increase could also be explained by a combination of these three causes."

Methamphetamine, a drug that has been historically concentrated in places like the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was also found to now be present in Cyprus, the east of Germany, Spain and northern Europe.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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