Methamphetamine residue has been found in wastewater of an Australian coastal city at levels almost 5 times what they were in 2009, suggesting a corresponding increase in methamphetamine use, according to a short report published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Wayne Hall, from the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, and his colleagues used liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse 498 wastewater samples drawn from a coastal metropolitan city in south-east Queensland between 2009 and 2015, and 712 samples from a major inland regional city between 2010 and 2015.
“Methamphetamine consumption (measured in milligrams per day per 1000 inhabitants) was higher in the metropolitan city than in the regional city, and levels in both locations increased significantly between 2009-2010 and 2015.
“Consumption increased 4.8 times in the metropolitan area between 2009 and 2015, and 3.4 times in the regional city between 2010 and 2015,” the researchers wrote.
However, they noted that “our data do not allow us to decide whether methamphetamine consumption has increased because there are more new users, because current users are consuming higher doses of a purer drug, or as a result of a combination of these possibilities”.
The study, the authors wrote, showed “the potential value of wastewater analysis in providing timely data on trends in illicit drug consumption”.