Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Drug Use and the Greek Economic Crisis

How we moderns cope with stressful times:
The economic crisis plaguing Greece was expected to impact consumption of pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs – a priori to an unknown extent. We quantified the change of use for various classes of licit and illicit drugs by monitoring Athens’ wastewater from 2010 to 2014. A high increase in the use of psychoactive drugs was detected between 2010 and 2014, especially for antipsychotics (35-fold), benzodiazepines (19-fold), and antidepressants (11-fold). This directly reflects the perceived increase of incidences associated with mental illnesses in the population, as a consequence of severe socioeconomic changes. Other therapeutic classes, like antiepileptics, hypertensives, and gastric and ulcer drugs also showed an increase in use (from 2-fold increase for antiepileptics to 13-fold for hypertensives). In contrast, the overall use of antibiotics and NSAIDs decreased. For mefenamic acid, an almost 28-fold decrease was observed. This finding is likely related to the reduction in drug expenditure applied in public health. A 2-fold increase of methamphetamine use was detected, associated with a cheap street drug called ″sisa″ (related to marginal conducts), which is a health concern. MDMA (5-fold) and methadone (7-fold) use showed also an increase, while cocaine and cannabis estimates did not show a clear trend.
I am not clear on the exact relationship between drug use and drugs in the wastewater, but I imagine it would be fairly close. Mefenamic acid, incidentally, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory – I had to look that up.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Basically when you have less money, you spend less on medicine for pain and sickness because you can't afford to, but you spend more on psychotropics because you can't afford not to.