Analysis of wastewater in Karlshamn in Blekinge shows an extensive use of cannabis and amphetamine. Now the municipality is planning more early intervention at earlier ages against drugs.
SWEDEN – A study of urine in the sewage passing Sternö treatment plants, conducted five days in early April, showed remnants of cannabis, amphetamines and cocaine. The analysis was conducted at Karolinska University Hospital which shows that cannabis as well as amphetamines is most commonly used illicit drugs abused in the municipality.
The result reflects the image of an unfortunately rather high cannabis use that Sweden has observed among school students last year. As for amphetamines it is higher than expected, although therapists noticed that the drug has become more common, says Jenny Andersson, ANDT strategist in Karlshamn.
Converted in doses per thousand inhabitants show an average of 18 doses of cannabis (marijuana and hashish) per thousand people (adults as well as young) per day during the measurement period, and seven doses of amphetamine per capita, which is higher than other measurements in some other cities, including Malmo and Lund. Cocaine traces were also found in the water. Even trace of ecstasy was found, but not enough amount to offer proper estimation.
About 17 600 inhabitants are connected to the sewage treatment plant in the city. As for cannabis, which is fat soluble, there are traces which remain longer in the body, while for stimulant drugs better show drug use during the period.
Similar analyses have been made in more cities in Sweden and Europe and, together with other studies give a fairly good picture of drug use. It can be followed down to neighborhoods, but not at the individual level.
A school survey completed in days among 13-17-year-olds schoolchildren may soon show whether the drug last year’s high figures were temporary or a trend.
More young people trying drugs, onset age of cannabis use has dropped to about 14 years and there are some 14-15-year-olds who developed dependence, says Jenny Andersson.
The municipality has increased preventive measures with parent meetings, school information and also cooperation with the police to use sniffer dogs on the premises after school hours.
Now a broader picture of drug use in the municipality starts to become clear and an overall comprehensive approach to drug prevention are being developed. Politicians will decide in the fall on some of the measures to be taken against the fight against drug abuse.
The coordinator Jenny Andersson wish that even random drug testing in schools should get ready for use, particularly among high school students in vocational programs that handle a range of security elements. It is about ensuring both a secure working environment as a good study situation for young people. More is required in the preventive efforts at earlier ages.