The effect of COVID-19 on the consumption of drugs in Europe has been varied depending on the drug type concerned. Overall, 51.6% of participants in a survey have increased their drug or alcohol consumption and 57.3% reported taking drugs more frequently. The main explanations for these inclines are due to boredom and anxiety, likely due to the imposed restrictions of strict lockdown measures.
According to Statista, Cannabis remains to be the most popular drug used within Europe as 27.2% of respondents revealed that they have used the drug in their lifetime compared to only 5.4% using cocaine. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, regular users of Cannabis have increased their usage, however it is important to note that this has only affected 10% of respondents.
There has been a major hold on the party lifestyle with the shut-down of nightclubs and lack of festival events. As well as, a decrease in the supply of readily available drugs on the market resulting from transport restrictions at country borders. This has impacted the usage of recreational drugs such as cocaine, LSD and MDMA which have seen a decline. The Global Drug Survey revealed that 40% of respondents have used these drugs less during the pandemic.
This detrimental trend has resulted in the domestic production of synthetic opioids. There is a very high risk that substitutes such as fentanyl will become more common. This prediction is concerning due to the dangers associated with such drugs leading to addiction and overdoses. For instance, fentanyl compared to heroin is 50 times stronger.
Public Health England has also released a warning relating to the rise in illegally produced prescription drugs sold as benzodiazepines. These cause harmful health issues due to the mix of unsafe and unknown components.
With the production and use of illicit drugs on the rise due to the pandemic, Randox Toxicology offers ideal drug testing solutions to identify an extensive menu of substances. For example, the Evidence MultiSTAT can test for the presence of fentanyl, methamphetamine and amphetamine to name a few from the extensive list.
The Evidence Series analysers provide the facility for both laboratory and non-laboratory drug testing. Fluid, urine and blood samples can be accurately and efficiently tested using revolutionary Biochip Array Technology.