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Sewage tests show London uses the most cocaine in Europe

A project testing wastewater found Londoners beat other EU cities for the third time in a row, as well as an increase in the use of MDMA

2015 wasn’t a great year for coke-lovers – or was it? There’s been news that cocaine can make you more likely to kill yourself, it can make your brain rot and you can stop recognising other people’s emotions (though when you're wapped to the gills, do you really care). Despite this, Londoners have topped the chart of cocaine users in all of Europe for the third year in a row. And the evidence is in the water.

Well, in the wastewater. Analysis by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that London is among a few cities that have increased in their usage of the Class A drug. The results of sample wastewater – read: sewage – concluded that the average daily concentration of cocaine was 909mg per 1,000 people in 2015. That’s a large increase from 737mg last year.

When looking just at the weekend samples, London escalated to 1043.7mg. More than three-quarters of cities showed higher loads of BE and MDMA in wastewater during the weekend (Friday to Monday).

Researchers examined wastewater samples for benzoylecgonine, a chemical produced by the body that breaks down the drug.

The next closest city for the white substance use was Amsterdam, at 642mg across the week. Brussels, Antwerp and Zurich also saw a rise in cocaine use, among 60 cities analysed by the study. The EU report found a distinct divide in cocaine usage between eastern and western Europe, with lesser amounts found in Norway and Slovakia, where constrastingly, methamphetamines (like crystal meth) were more common.

Findings also concluded a definite increase in Europe’s use of MDMA. The UK reported the second highest level of use, with 3.5 per cent of young people saying they had taken it in the last year. More potent ecstasy is now on the market, with some up to double the average dosage, as the Global Drugs Survey affirmed in an interview with Dazed.

However, the limitations of the study were noted in the report: because of the fluctuations of purity with street products, the data isn’t always 100 per cent accurate. Quantities of drugs that haven’t been consumed can also have been disposed of via waste systems.