Athens’ drug users prefer simulants like cocaine, amphetamines and meth over heroin, which was the drug of choice in 2000, according to a special report on the matter by Ta Nea.

According to Ta Nea, the amounts of illegal substances consumed by the population on a daily basis are indicative and derived by extrapolating data from samples of urban sewage from the Psittala Treatment Center, where sewage for approximately 4 million Athenians ends up.


Discussions over the changing preferences of drug users in the greater Athens area began over the recent holiday season when reports on the concentration of cocaine in sewage samples between Dec. 23, 2023 and Jan. 7, 2024 jumped to more than two kilos per day, up from 1.11 kilos per day.

Put in context, however, cocaine use was still lower than the peak levels detected between April 28-30, 2023, where it reached 2.67 kilos per day.

Additionally, Athens’ cocaine use is much lower than other European cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, and other cities in Belgium that post levels of more than double, said head of research of the Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals Gerasimos Papanastasatos.

MDMA, Meth and Heroin

Use of the party drug known as ecstasy (MDMA) also doubled over the holiday period, yet it is still at fairly low levels of 28 grams per day and is lower than the 42-87 grams per day recorded between Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023.

Unlike party drugs, Papanastasatos explains that the use of street drugs like meth doesn’t fluctuate during the week. Between 2019 to 2023 meth use ranged from 100 to 176 grams per day and is currently hovering at around 120 grams per day.

Unfortunately, there is no accurate data on the use of heroin as it is metabolized by the body too quickly, but researchers note that there is a general downward trend in its use.


Researchers note that cannabis is a recreational drug that knows no class boundaries and whose use, at least in Athens, fluctuates greatly during the week. Friday to Sunday Athenians smoke around 500,000 cigarettes per day, which drops to 210,000 between Monday and Thursday.


Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Stedon and Lexotanil have become popular in Athens over the past few years, both as medicines and as narcotics. A professor of chemistry explains that for the past decade users combine illegal stimulants with benzodiazepines like oxazepam. Use of oxazepam peaked in 2014 at 3.8 kg per day while figures from 2022 show that use dropped to around 1.5 kg per day.