Antidepressant and cocaine use skyrocketed in Athens during Covid-19 lockdown, study finds


Antidepressants and Antipsychotics use skyrocketed by a massive 60% from March 2019 to November 2021 across Athens and the wider Attica region, a National and Kapodistrian University of Athens study found.

According to what the head of the research team, professor of analytical Chemistry Nikolaos Thomaidis, said on a Greek radio show, the data showed a decade-high use of cocaine, marking an increase of around 60% from 2019.

The study believes that the narcotic use increase concerns about 2% of the population of Attica.

“The analyses we carry out at the Wastewater Treatment Center in Psyttalia showed us that from November ’20 to November ’21, there was an additional increase in the use of anti-anxiety medications (mainly benzodiazepines, with oxazepam being the champion) of 36%, compared to March ’20," Thomaidis said.

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A similar rise in the use of antidepressants was observed to a lesser extent over the same period of time, according to the professor.

“However, these levels are similar to the first record (which compared to ’19 had increased by some drastic around 60%) and peaked again in March ’21, in the prolonged lockdown we had since November ’20," he said.

"As far as antipsychotics are concerned, there was a large increase during the great economic crisis in ’14 and ’15, but after this difficult period there was a slight decline in their use," continued Thomaidis.

He added that "on March 21 there was an increase of 58% compared to March ’19."

In the first period of the pandemic in 2020 from the analysis in the sewage, the team of Professor Thomaidis observed a large rise in antibiotics.

After the first period, they showed a relative decrease, because, as he explained, there was a change in the cocktail of medicines administered by doctors in hospitals.

However, he pointed out that the use of paracetamol remains at very high levels.

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