Stockholm is likely to consume more amphetamines than comparable European cities, the national SVT broadcaster reported, citing a drug test conducted in the Swedish capital.
Earlier this year, a standard test of Stockholm's wastewater was carried out under the EMCDDA rules, the European Organisation for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The measured levels of drug residues were then compared with those of other European cities that have undergone the same test since 2011. In 2018, over 70 cities in 20 European countries were connected to the project.
The catchment area included households with a total of 850,000 inhabitants of all ages, living in the central and southern parts of Stockholm.
The Stockholm tests yielded an average of about 675 milligrams of amphetamine per 1,000 inhabitants per day, which places Stockholmers at the top of the European list in terms of total amphetamines consumed. No other cities of Stockholm's calibre had ever measured higher than an average level of 450 milligrams of amphetamine per 1,000 inhabitants per day since the measurements began in 2011.
Chemist Johan Lindberg, group manager at the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), found the results quite shocking.
"This is the first time we have seen such a high level. When you see such a level, you want to run another test, because this is a giant warning flag. Ideally, you would like a different measurement from the same place", Johan Lindberg told SVT.
The test was run over seven days, with expected variation between the days making the results even more trustworthy.
"You have to be a little humble as this is the first time we have done such a test. But I see no reason why it would be wrong", Johan Lindberg said.
According to Lindberg, prescription medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), should not warp the overall picture. He described its role as negligible, as amphetamine is not the most prescribed drug for ADHD.
Other Nordic cities appear to have a liking for amphetamines too. Finland's Lahti, Norway's Oslo and Iceland's Reykjavik all made the top five. According to SVT, the street price of the popular stimulant in Stockholm is SEK 240 ($25) per gram.
By contrast, Stockholm's wastewater only averaged 200 milligrams of cocaine per thousand inhabitants, which puts Stockholm somewhere between 25th and 30th place among the cities surveyed, depending on the day of the week. Bristol, England topped the rating for cocaine consumption at nearly 970 milligrams a day, tightly followed by Amsterdam and Zurich.
At over 970,000 inhabitants and over 2.4 million people in the metropolitan area, Stockholm is the capital, and the most populous urban city in Sweden, scattered across fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea. Greater Stockholm generates about one-third of the country's GDP and is home to many corporate headquarters.