DOI: 10.3390/ijerph21020206 ISSN: 1660-4601

Pharmaceutical and Recreational Drug Usage Patterns during and Post COVID-19 Determined by Wastewater-Based Epidemiology

Laura Elina Tomsone, Romans Neilands, Kristina Kokina, Vadims Bartkevics, Iveta Pugajeva
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) was applied to evaluate the consumption trends of pharmaceuticals (i.e., antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antiepileptics, antihypertensives, and others), as well as recreational drugs (caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine), in Latvia from December 2020 to July 2023. The time period covers both the COVID-19 pandemic and the post-pandemic periods; therefore, the impact of the implemented restrictions and the consequences of the illness in terms of the usage of pharmaceuticals thereon were investigated. Additionally, the seasonality and impact of the seasonal flu and other acute upper respiratory infections were studied. The results revealed that the pandemic impacted the consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine, as well as several pharmaceuticals, such as antihypertensives, antidepressants, psychiatric drugs, and the painkiller ibuprofen. The findings suggest that the imposed restrictions during the pandemic may have had a negative effect on the population’s health and mental well-being. Distinct seasonal trends were discovered in the consumption patterns of caffeine and alcohol, where lower use was observed during the summer. The seasonal consumption trends of pharmaceuticals were discovered in the case of antibiotics, the antiasthmatic drug salbutamol, and the decongestant xylometazoline, where higher consumption occurred during colder seasons.

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