Illicit drug use between an annual key holiday and a control period: Wastewater analysis in a semi-rural, an urban and a vacation area

Lai, F. Y., Bruno, R., Hall, W., Gartner, C., Ort, C., Kirkbride, P., Prichard, J., Thai, P. K., Carter, S., & Mueller, J. F. (2012) Illicit drug use between an annual key holiday and a control period: Wastewater analysis in a semi-rural, an urban and a vacation area. In Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference 2012, 18-21 November, 2012, Melbourne, Victoria.

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Introduction and Aims: Holiday periods are potentially a time for increased substance use as social events and private parties are more common. Data on community illicit drug consumption during holiday periods are limited. Besides existing methods for determining drug use, such as population surveys, one emerging method is to measure illicit drugs and/or their metabolites in wastewater samples. This study examined the change in consumption of cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine and 3,4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine in three different types of areas (an inland semi-rural area, a coastal urban area and a vacation island) with respect to holiday times.

Design and Methods: Samples were collected at the inlet of the major wastewater treatment plant in each area during a key annual holiday (i.e. the summer holiday including Christmas and New Year) and control period. Illicit drug residues in the daily composited samples were measured by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry.

Results: Drug use varied substantially among the three areas within each monitoring period as well as between the holiday and control period within each area. Use consistently increased and peaked over New Year particularly for cocaine and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine whereas cannabis and methamphetamine were relatively less subjected to holiday times in all the areas.

Discussion and Conclusions: Wastewater sampling and analysis provides higher spatio-temporal resolution than national surveys and supplements drug epidemiology studies originating primary in metropolitan locations. Such data is essential for policy makers to plan potential intervention strategies associated with these illicit substances in regional areas and other settings besides urban areas in the future.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 88978
Item Type: Conference Item (Other)
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00514.x
ISSN: 0959-5236
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 14 Oct 2015 02:25
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2015 02:25

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