Profiles and changes in stimulant use in Belgium in the period of 2011-2015

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Sep 15;565:1011-1019. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.05.128. Epub 2016 May 29.


Adapting illicit drug policy strategies requires detailed knowledge on types and amounts of substances consumed by the target population. In this study, we applied wastewater-based epidemiology to detect spatio-temporal changes in the relative amounts of stimulants (amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), cocaine) used in seven locations in Belgium over 2011-2015. Clear geographical differences were observed with stimulant users in large cities (Antwerp, Brussels) showing a preference for cocaine, while amphetamine use was most abundant in smaller cities (Geraardsbergen, Koksijde, Lier, Ninove, Ostend). Results obtained across õdifferent years revealed that the investigated substances had a stable share in the total amount of stimulants used, suggesting that habits of stimulant use remained constant, although differences in absolute amounts were observed across years. Investigation of the weekly pattern in stimulant use showed an increase in the use of MDMA on the weekends compared to cocaine and amphetamine.

Keywords: Amphetamine-type stimulants; Belgium; Cocaine; Spatiotemporal changes; Stimulant use; Wastewater-based epidemiology.

MeSH terms

  • Amphetamines / analysis*
  • Belgium
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / analysis*
  • Cities
  • Cocaine / analysis*
  • Geography
  • Illicit Drugs / analysis*
  • Population Density
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Time Factors
  • Waste Water / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Amphetamines
  • Biomarkers
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Cocaine