Current trends in Finnish drug abuse: Wastewater based epidemiology combined with other national indicators

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Oct 15;568:864-874. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.06.060. Epub 2016 Jun 19.


No single measure is able to provide a complete picture of population- or community-level drug abuse and its current trends. Therefore, a multi-indicator approach is needed. The aim of this study was to combine wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) with data from other national indicators, namely driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) statistics, drug seizures, and drug use surveys. Furthermore, drug market size estimates and a comparison of confiscated drugs to drugs actually consumed by users were performed using the WBE approach. Samples for wastewater analysis were collected during one-week sampling periods in 2012, 2014 and 2015, with a maximum of 14 cities participating. The samples were analysed with a validated ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometric (UHPLC-MS/MS) methodology for various common drugs of abuse. The results were then compared with data from other national indicators available. Joint interpretation of the data shows that the use of amphetamine and MDMA has increased in Finland from 2012 to 2014. A similar trend was also observed for cocaine, although its use remains at a very low level compared to many other European countries. Heroin was practically absent from the Finnish drug market during the study period. The retail market for the most common stimulant drugs were estimated to have been worth EUR 70 million for amphetamine and around EUR 10 million for both methamphetamine and cocaine, in 2014 in Finland.

Keywords: Driving under influence of drugs (DUID); Drug market size estimates; Illicit drugs; Multi-indicator approach; Seizure data; Wastewater analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / analysis*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Waste Water / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical