Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Publication Title

Prevalence of illicit and prescribed neuropsychiatric drugs in three communities in Kentucky using wastewater-based epidemiology and Monte Carlo simulation for the estimation of associated uncertainties




Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


A cost-effective alternative approach capable of determining the prevalence of substance use in communities can complement the existing efforts of combating drug abuse and addiction. In this study, the prevalence of 10 illicit and 19 prescribed psychoactive drugs of potential abuse was determined utilizing wastewater-based epidemiology, and compared in two adjoined urban communities and a rural community. This is the first application of the Monte Carlo simulation method to account multiple uncertainties and propagation of errors associated with the individual parameter of wastewater based epidemiological estimations in the U.S. A significantly higher prevalence of cocaine [3830 (mean difference, MD: 2960) mg/d/1000 people] was found in the central business district while the per-capita consumption rates of amphetamine [738 (MD: 338) mg/d/1000 people] and methamphetamine [1660 (MD: 629) mg/d/1000 people] were higher in a rural community. Among narcotics, the per-capita consumption rate of fentanyl and morphine was significantly higher in urban communities while codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and buprenorphine were dominant in a rural community. The significantly higher prevalence of buprenorphine (˜20-30 folds), oxycodone (˜2-3 folds), and alprazolam (˜2-3 folds) determined in these communities compared to the conventional estimates based on the electronically reported prescriptions and drug-related inpatient hospitalizations suggest the abuse of these drugs.



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