MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The USA is one of the major consumers of diverse neuropsychiatric and illegal drugs, and recently declared a national public health emergency on opioid abuse. Law enforcement typically utilized conventional methods of determining drug consumption rate which are based on survey questionnaire, hospital admissions, drug-related crime statistics, and self-reported information. Conventional methods typically underestimate the actual consumption rate of drugs.
Our new approach of determining consumption rates of drugs in community is time and cost effecting and comprehensive. Based on levels of drugs quantified from raw sewage, the per capita consumption rates of several illicit drugs including methamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine, and THC in two communities of Western Kentucky (similar population and only ~50 miles apart) were significantly different. During special events such as July 4th and 2017 solar eclipse, the consumption rates were found even higher. The consumption rate of methamphetamine was among one of the highest ever reported in the country.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: There is potential higher consumption rate of illicit drugs during special events. The conventional estimates can have underestimated the actual consumption of illicit drugs.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Estimated drug consumption from wastewater based epidemiological study can be a complementary to the estimation from conventional method. In future, determining drug consumption rates in sub-communities would help law enforcement to map the hot spots of drug consumption provided that the researchers have access to the wastewater samples from upstream sewer network and no privacy violations.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Research funding in this area of immediate interest is inevitable.
Abstract presented at:
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