TGI Tuesday? Brussels’ amphetamine use peaks at start of the week

TGI Tuesday? Brussels’ amphetamine use peaks at start of the week
Опубликовано: Thursday, 23 March 2023 15:56

Other drugs — such as MDMA and cocaine — were more clearly associated with the weekend.


Maybe it was a particularly stressful period. Or maybe Belgian residents always need a boost at the start of the week.

But during the seven days last year in which analysts monitored wastewater for recreational drugs, one thing was clear: Illicit use of amphetamines in Brussels peaked at the start of the working week.

The annual snapshot of drug use in Europe’s cities is based on what’s essentially a large urine sample — a particularly fitting study for Brussels, a city whose emblem is a statue of a peeing boy.

The 2022 results, released by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) and SCORE group on Wednesday, showed a sharp rise in the use of amphetamine — a stimulant — in Brussels, with volume more than doubling since 2020. And there was a clear spike of residue in Brussels’ wastewater on Tuesday.

While the residue may contain traces of prescription amphetamines, studies show this volume would be "very, very low" compared to illicit use, said João Matias, the EMCDDA’s scientific analyst responsible for the work on wastewater.

Comparison with previous years shows the week’s amphetamine consumption becoming more and more front-loaded: In 2020, residue peaked on a Thursday and in 2021 it was on Wednesday.

Other drugs in the analysis — such as MDMA and cocaine — were more clearly associated with the weekend.

“We might be picking up on people that use amphetamine in a more problematic way, which means that they might be using throughout the whole week,” said Matias. "And so we might be targeting a different group of the population.”

The Europe-wide analysis evaluated wastewater from around 54 million people last year in over 100 participating European cities to track use of six drugs: cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine and cannabis.

In the league table of amphetamine use among participating cities, Brussels sits at number 19. The top two cities for amphetamine use are in Sweden, followed by Antwerp in third place.

Brussels has proportionally much higher use of cocaine and MDMA, sitting in fourth and sixth places respectively.

UPDATED: This article has been updated to specify that the figures reflect illicit amphetamine use.

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