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Cannabis use in Athens “among highest in Europe”; pandemic increased use of antidepressants, cocaine

Cannabis use in Attica is among the highest in Europe and Athens ranks fifth or sixth in Europe, said professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Athens, Nikos Thomaidis. Increase is also the us of antidepressants, anti=psychotic drugs and of cocaine, especially in the winter months during the pandemic and the economic crisis.

  • Sewage analysis shows that 1 in 10 residents of Athens makes use of cannabis, says Thomaidis.

Speaking to broadcaster ERT, Thomaidis said Greece has provided wastewater analysis data to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs since 2011.

Thomaidis said cannabis use dropped in the first phase of the lockdown from March 2020 to September 2020, as in other European cities, attributed to the absence of trafficking.

“In Athens we saw an increase in use from October 2020 to March 2021. In March 2021 we had quite high use, which corresponds to about 10% of Attica’s population,” he stressed.

“Cannabis use increases in winter and decreases in summer,” according to the data, the professor said.

The data also show that cannabis use is higher in Southern Europe as well as certain Dutch cities, and in Paris and London.

However, it’s not only cannabis Greeks use and recent studies in the sewage water to detect the level of Covid-19 infections has shown also a dramatic increase of up to 60% in the use of antidepressants and anti-psychotics drugs.

The study conducted from March 2019 to November of 2021 also by the team of professor Thomaidis.

As for cocaine, its use remains from summer of 2020 to a decade high, has increased around 60% from 2019 and concerns about 2% of the population of Attica.

Analysis of the sewage water from Novembr 2020 to November 2021 has shown an additional increase in the use of anxiolytics (mainly benzodiazepines, with oxazepam being the champion). In increase of 36% was recorded compared to March 2020. These levels decreased in the following period, in the summer ‘21, and the same use reappeared again in November ‘21.

.The same periodicity occurs to a lesser extent in antidepressants, according to Thomaidis.

“However, these levels are similar to the first record (which compared to ’19 had increased by some drastic around 60%) and peaked again in March ’21, in the prolonged lockdown we had since November ’20” .

As for anti-psychotics, there was a large increase during the great economic crisis in 2014 and 2015, but after this difficult period there was a slight decline in their use, the professor said adding that there was an increase of 58% again in March 2021, when compared to March 2019.

In the first period of the pandemic in 2020 analyses in the sewage recorded a large increase in antibiotics and antiviral drugs. After the first period, they showed a relative decrease, because doctors in the hospitals changed the cocktail of medicines.

In an interview also in ERT TV end of January, Thomaidis said that the use of paracetamol remains at very high levels.

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