Illicit drug use between an annual key holiday and a control period: Wastewater analysis in a semi-rural, an urban and a vacation area
Lai, FY and Bruno, RB and Hall, W and Gartner, C and Ort, C and Kirkbridge, P and Prichard, JP and Thai, PK and Carter, S and Mueller, JF, Illicit drug use between an annual key holiday and a control period: Wastewater analysis in a semi-rural, an urban and a vacation area, Drug and Alcohol Review, 18-21 November 2012, Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 20. ISSN 0959-5236 (2012) [Conference Extract]
for increased substance use as social events and private parties
are more common. Data on community illicit drug consumption
during holiday periods are limited. Besides existing methods
for determining drug use, such as population surveys, one emerging
method is to measure illicit drugs and/or their metabolites
in wastewater samples. This study examined the change in
consumption of cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine and 3,4-
methylenedioxymethamphetamine in three different types of areas
(an inland semi-rural area, a coastal urban area and a vacation island)
with respect to holiday times.
Design and Methods: Samples were collected at the inlet of the
major wastewater treatment plant in each area during a key annual
holiday (i.e. the summer holiday including Christmas and New Year)
and control period. Illicit drug residues in the daily composited
samples were measured by liquid chromatography coupled with
tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: Drug use varied substantially among the three areas
within each monitoring period as well as between the holiday
and control period within each area. Use consistently increased
and peaked over New Year particularly for cocaine and
3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine whereas cannabis and
methamphetamine were relatively less subjected to holiday times in
all the areas.
Discussion and Conclusions: Wastewater sampling and analysis
provides higher spatio-temporal resolution than national surveys and
supplements drug epidemiology studies originating primary in
metropolitan locations. Such data is essential for policy makers to
plan potential intervention strategies associated with these illicit
substances in regional areas and other settings besides urban areas
in the future.