It Ain’t All Snow: Swiss Cities Have Some of the Highest Cocaine Use in Europe

A new measure of drug traces in municipal waste water systems puts Swiss cities on par with Amsterdam and Antwerp.

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Sam Robinson

According to a report published in the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment this past Monday, Switzerland has some of the most frequent cocaine users in Europe.

The study, carried out by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), was intended to measure traces of pharmaceuticals, pollution and household chemicals in the waste water from 19 different European cities.

The results indicated that Swiss residents consume more cocaine than those in any of the cities studied: about 1.5 grams per 1,000 people every day. Scandinavian nations showed the lowest levels of cocaine use: Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki only consumed around 0.15 grams per 1,000 people every day.

(MORE: Cocaine Use Down—Because It’s Too Expensive)

Christoph Ort, a researcher for Eawag, told the AFP that Swiss cities’ cocaine measurements was “in the same range as those European cities with the highest consumption” — on par with those of Antwerp and Amsterdam.

Researchers also noted an uptick during certain festivals such as the Zurich Street Parade, when cocaine traces in the city’s waste water surged as much as 400 percent. In general, they said, cocaine appeared to be more popular in central and western Europe than in northern and eastern Europe.

(MORE: Is Nicotine a ‘Gateway’ to Cocaine Addiction?)

All in all, about 360 kilograms of cocaine are used every day in Europe, accounting for approximately 10 to 15 percent of the drug’s global production.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.