Wastewater analysis shows drug use in Slovenian cities mostly below int average

Ljubljana – Slovenian cities are mostly below international average when it comes to the use of illicit drugs, with the exception of ecstasy levels in Ljubljana and amphetamine in Velenje, an international study based on waste water analysis for 2020 has shown.

The study, released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, in cooperation with the SCORE network, involved 99 cities in 27 countries with a total population of 50 million, including six Slovenian cities or urban areas.

According to information provided by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), which coordinates the study in Slovenia, Ljubljana recorded the highest levels of biomarkers of cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine in its wastewater, while Velenje had the highest level of traces of amphetamine among the six Slovenian towns included in the study.

All average levels in the Slovenian urban areas were below the SCORE average, with the exception of MDMA or ecstasy in Ljubljana. The biomarker of cocaine, BE, was just below the average in Ljubljana and Koper.

Compared to European and world capitals, Slovenian cities rank in the upper half of the list of all the cities included in the study when it comes to the levels of benzoylecgonine, the biomarker of cocaine, in their sewage water, while they rank in the lower half in terms of other biomarkers.

Two exceptions are amphetamine in Velenje, in the mid-north-east of the country, and MDMA in the capital Ljubljana, which the IJS notes rank in the upper half of the range.

The analysis has also shown that cocaine and THC are the most widely used, with the THC leading by the number of doses.

This is the fourth time that Slovenia and Ljubljana have been included in the study. To make out reliable trends, at least five years of monitoring would be needed, although the IJS has detected some specific temporal trends in the use of certain drugs for each Slovenian urban area involved.

Compared with the year before, the use of illicit drugs in Ljubljana declined last year, with the exception of MDMA, the use of which increased. The same trend is observed for cocaine and THC over the four years with a general declining trend. So has the use of amphetamine decreased, while the use of methamphetamine was increasing until 2019 before falling in 2020.

The Domžale-Kamnik urban area in central Slovenia and Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, took part in the study for the third consecutive year. Last year Maribor recorded somewhat lower levels of illicit stimulants but somewhat higher levels of THC compared with the year before.

Domžale and Kamnik also recorded a decline in traces of cocaine, amphetamine in their wastewater, as well as comparable levels of MDMA and increased levels of methamphetamine and THC compared with 2019. Over the past three years, there is a falling trend for amphetamine and an increase in the use of THC.

Koper, Novo Mesto and Velenje were included in the analysis for the second time. Koper saw a drop in the use of all types of the monitored drugs, with the exception of methamphetamine, whose levels were flat. Lower levels of stimulants were also detected in Novo Mesto (SE), and comparable levels in Velenje.