Icelanders seem to have increased their drug use in the last four years.
According to a study, the use of cocaine has spiked in the greater Reykjavík area between 2017 and 2019, as well as amphetamines and methamphetamines. The consumption of those substances can be fairly comparable to other Nordic capitals. This is shown by sewage samples, conducted by Arndís Sue Ching Löve for her doctoral dissertation.
Sewage water says it all
The study is based on the theory that sewage water can be seen as a collection of urine samples from an entire community. According to RÚV, the use of cocaine increased considerably from 2017 to 2019 but decreased at the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic in 2020. MDMA use was stable over time but the increase was noticeable on weekends and around the music festival “Iceland Airwaves”.
Amphetamine is on a high in Reykjavík
The same analytical methods were used in Oslo, Stockholm, Þórshöfn and Helsinki.
The results showed that the highest levels of amphetamine were found in Reykjavík and Stockholm, the highest level of methamphetamine was in Helsinki and MDMA in Oslo. The amount of cocaine was comparable in Oslo, Stockholm and Reykjavík.
Arndís, the researcher, says that the results are consistent with the police’s data on the seized amount of drugs and figures on drug driving.
Drug use increases in connection to large events
There has been a large increase in cocaine consumption.
“The main change took place in June 2020, when cocaine consumption fell significantly. In fact, we saw an increase in cannabis use, but other substances remained the same. This is in line with the results of research in other European countries. Cocaine use seems to have declined in the waves of the pandemic, but it has risen again after the waves in the European countries where this has been studied,” Arndís states.
Closures in the pandemic may explain these changes in the consumption patterns. Arndís mentions that consumption of drugs move more to people’s homes, but generally increases in connection with large events, such as festivals, and on weekends.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.
Also you can get regular news from Iceland—including the latest notifications on eruptions, as soon as they happen—by signing up to our newsletter.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!