With rising drug problems in the United States, researchers have to find new methods to stay on top of drug use trends. Recently, urine used to track drug use is becoming a common method among researchers and toxicologists. While it may sound unconventional, it keeps researchers and law enforcement ahead of the curve for monitoring drug use.
Urine Used to Track Drug Use
Researchers and toxicologists are putting a report to monitor which drugs are common in different parts of cities by collecting urine samples from sewage. They have been using wastewater treatment plants to find traces of substances. A new report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) explains how to scan through wastewater to monitor drug trends and even explains how public restrooms may be a new resource to help researchers spot newly-popular drug trends.
This method is effective for monitoring the use of the more popular drugs on the market today such as heroin, cocaine and meth etc., but is much less effective in tracing the usage of new “designer drugs“. Drug dealers constantly change the chemical makeup of these drugs, in an attempt to dodge authorities, which means that researchers don’t always know what to look for.
A team of toxicologists even took this one step further by placing portable urinals where drug consumption is more prevalent, such as nightclubs. Since the urine used to track drug use from these sites wasn’t diluted with other sewage, it was broken down into its chemical elements and scanned for psychoactive substances. They found large amounts of chemicals used in these new designer drugs, such as mephedrone and cathinone.
How This Method Benefits Researchers
The EMCDDA’s report praises this technique as a means to give a more geographically detailed report and give us more insight into what new drug trends are making an impact in the community. Liesbeth Vandam, one of the toxicologists who worked on the EMCDDA’s report, says that this method could even be used to measure the efficacy of newly implemented drug policies, by using urine samples before and after a new social or law enforcement campaign starts. This could possiblly give us some tangible evidence on whether these campaigns are actually working.
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