Cocaine traces in Bristol sewage nearly quadruple in five years


By Patrick Sullivan, Film & TV Editor

Out of the 73 sample cities tested across Europe in 2018, notably excluding London, Bristol had the most traces per 1000 population of benzoylecgonine, suggesting it has a high recreational use of the drug.

In a study conducted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) using samples of untreated wastewater, Bristol had 969.2 milligrams per 1000 people per day of benzoylecgonine, the main excreted metabolite of cocaine.

The results placed Bristol as the highest of the cities tested, four per cent more than Amsterdam in second place and over 30 per cent more than Barcelona in fifth.

The results of the annual study were released on 14 March this year, however London was not involved in the 2018 study. The English capital had previously recorded the highest values for cocaine in 2014 and 2015.


Epigram / Patrick Sullivan

Bristol was the only UK city to take part this time around, and was sixth in the 2017 study with 754.7mg/1000p/day. The new results show a rise of 30 per cent in the year since and a 390 per cent hike from 2014, the first year Bristol were included.

The study also measures the amount of amphetamine, methamphetamine and MDMA in the wastewater, however there are only published results for cocaine and methamphetamine in Bristol. The city was 30th out of 73 cities in the list for methamphetamine traces.


Epigram / Patrick Sullivan

The report noted the results may alternatively suggest an increase in the purity of drugs being taken rather than simply an increase in usage.

A full analysis of the results can be found here.

Featured Image: Epigram / Patrick Sullivan

Should the city of Bristol be concerned by the latest drugs statistics?

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Patrick Sullivan

Epigram co-Editor-in-Chief 2019-20, now digital puzzles connoisseur. EngD student researching sustainable composites, entering my sixth year at UoB (somehow).