There are increasing regional differences in illicit drug use in Finland, according to recent testing of wastewater samples around the country.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) regularly conducts sampling of municipal wastewater for the presence of various drugs. The agency also monitors wastewater for diseases, like coronavirus.
The most recent tests revealed that compared to the rest of Finland, cocaine was more commonly used than amphetamines in the capital region. According to the results, use of drugs in general is increasing in that area, while drug use is more stable elsewhere in the country.
Cocaine use is steadily increasing, particularly in the capital region, but in other cities, its use has been low or even non-existent, Aino Kankaanpää, development manager at THL, said in a press release.
Amphetamine is by far the most popular illegal stimulant substance in Finland, but use of the drug is currently significantly lower than it was at a record-high level in 2020. However, amphetamine use has increased slightly in larger cities during the beginning of this year, compared to last year.
According to Teemu Gunnar, head of the THL's forensic toxicology unit, police drug busts clearly affected the flow of amphetamines in the spring of 2021.
The decline in amphetamine use seems to have had knock-on effects on other societal problems, for example, drunk driving incidents have also decreased over the last two years, according to Gunnar.
Another drug that is more commonly used in larger cities is ecstasy, while the use of methamphetamine is currently low in Finland, according to the findings.
Use of a designer drug stimulant, alpha-PVP, has increased significantly since the beginning of 2022. Use of the dangerous substance has been at record highs this spring in Helsinki and surrounding areas, the sampling found.
The results are based on samples taken from wastewater facilities in 27 cities and surrounding areas in November and December of last year. The sampling was repeated in March in Helsinki, Tampere and Turku. The survey's data covers around 60 percent of the country's population, according to the THL.
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