March 31, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Cannabis use in Athens ‘one of the highest in Europe’

Cannabis use in Attica is among the highest in Europe, with Athens ranking fifth or sixth among European capitals, said Nikos Tomaidis, professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Athens.

The use of antidepressants, antipsychotics and cocaine has also skyrocketed in the country, especially during the winter months during the pandemic and economic crisis.

Wastewater analysis shows that one in ten Athenians uses cannabis, says Tomaidis.

Speaking to ERT broadcaster, Tomaidis said that Greece has been providing wastewater analysis data to the European Drug Monitoring Center since 2011.

Tomaydis said that cannabis use declined during the first phase of the lockdown from March 2020 to September 2020, as in other European cities, due to communication difficulties between merchants and buyers.

“In Athens, we saw an increase in usage from October 2020 to March 2021. In March 2021, we had a fairly high usage, corresponding to about 10% of the population of Attica,” he stressed.

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

The data also shows that cannabis use is higher in Southern Europe, as well as in some cities in the Netherlands, as well as in Paris and London.

Cannabis is the future – exhibition 2018

However, Greeks do not only use cannabis, and recent sewage studies to determine the level of Covid-19 infection have also shown a sharp increase of up to 60% in the use of antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs.

The study was conducted from March 2019 to November 2021 also by the team of Professor Tomaydis.

As for cocaine, its use has remained high over the decade since summer 2020, having increased by about 60% compared to 2019 and affects about 2% of the population of Attica.

Wastewater analysis from November 2020 to November 2021 showed an additional increase in the use of anxiolytics (mainly benzodiazepines, with oxazepam being the champion). An increase of 36% compared to March 2020 was recorded. These levels declined in the next period, in the summer of 21, and the same usage reappeared in November of 21.

The same periodicity is observed to a lesser extent in antidepressants, according to Tomadis.

“However, these levels are similar to the first record (which increased sharply by about 60% compared to 2019) and peaked again in March 21, in the long lockdown that we have had since November 20.”

As for antipsychotics, there was a significant increase during the great economic crisis in 2014 and 2015, but after this difficult period, their use has declined somewhat, the professor said, adding that in March 2021 there was again an increase of 58% compared to March. 2019

In the first period of the pandemic in 2020, wastewater analyzes recorded a large increase in the content of antibiotics and antivirals. After the first period, they showed a relative decline because the doctors at the hospitals changed the drug mix.

In an interview ERT TV at the end of January, Tomaidis said paracetamol use remained at a very high level.

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