Record high amphetamine levels and drug-drive offenses

The increase in Helsinki wastewater was noticed during the coronavirus lockdown period.

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File picture of drugs deal / Credit: iStock

Researchers have found record high levels of amphetamines in capital region wastewater – a level which has continued to grow even during coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

A survey of wastewater at water treatment facilities in Helsinki showed a 15% rise in amphetamine levels in March and April compared with the previous six months.

“The use of amphteamines has tripled since 2013, and no clear decline has been detected in any of the drugs analysed in the wastewater study despite restrictive measures related to coronavirus” says Teemu Gunnar Head of the Forensic Toxicology Unit at THL.

Gunnar says while no link can be made between the coronavirus lockdown and increased traces of amphetamines, the use of the drug has been “higher than ever before” at least in the capital city region.

Researchers found no new increase in traces for cocaine or ecstasy during the spring despite bars and restaurants being closed, after several years of growth for both drugs.

Increase in drugs use visible in police work

Police say the increase in drugs use has become visible in their work too, with the number of all drug-related offenses increasing by 40% between January and April compared with the same period last year.

“Most of this increase in numbers can be explained by the so-called ‘Silk Road’ investigation unveiled last year. A lot of related offences have also been reported this year. The number of drug-related offences has increased for years and will continue to grow” says Inspector Teemu Saukoniemi from the National Police Board.

In the first four months of this year the number of suspected cases of people who were suspected of driving under the influence of drugs was higher than the number of people suspected of drink-driving for the first time.

During the lockdown there were fewer vehicles on the roads and so police were more easily able to spot erratic driving.

Incidents of drug-related driving offenses have more than doubled between 2013 and 2019, while the number of people caught driving under the influence of alcohol has dropped to less than half of what it was at the start of the millennium.