Are you high right now?

Probably not, I suppose, but the latest study suggests there is far more drug use going on than traditional methods of studying the issue reveal.  The breakthrough methodology?  Analyzing raw sewage for drugs:

The News: Scientists just performed a giant drug test on two American communities — although they didn’t tell anyone.

By sampling the sewage of two communities in New York state, public health officials were able to estimate how many drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, people are using across the state.

The results: People in the Albany communities the researchers studied use at least four times as much cocaine and six times more amphetamines as previously estimated, the researchers said…

The scientists didn’t just scrub the waste for the active components of the drugs, such as cocaine, morphine (the active component of heroin) or amphetamines. They also studied the compounds they break into after our bodies process them. After collecting the samples, the researchers tested them using a technique known as electrospray mass spectrometry, a process that basically sifts and organizes the contents by their mass so scientists can identify them…

Although the studies are not large enough to extrapolate to the entire U.S., the process suggests we could soon begin to see actual numbers of drug use across the country. The science could help correct many of the assumptions that currently plague our conceptions of who uses drugs and how often.

Fascinating stuff!  Time to grab the sewage from the US Capitol before it flows out to join the rest of DC?

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to Are you high right now?

  1. Mike from Canada says:

    This brings up a lot of questions in my mind.
    I wonder how (or if) they differentiate between other drugs or food that can degrade/metabolized into the same chemicals. I’ve read that some do, but I don’t recall the source, if it was reliable.

    It would be interesting to test the effluent of prisons, schools and most especially state and federal government assemblies and see what the results are. Especially for those tough on crime politicians.

    I wonder if the increase over self reporting is mostly people who say they don’t use at all but do, people who use far more then they admit, or a combination.

    If this study is true it puts into question the assertion that self reporting for these types of survey’s is mostly honest, doesn’t it? Unless the respondents were too stoned or damaged to remember correctly.

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