Methamphetamine is not just a public health problem. Its infiltration into freshwater streams causes wild fish addiction, Czech researchers have noted.
Methamphetamine: a major health threat
“Unauthorized drug users introduce them indirectly into surface waters after discharge into sewers and wastewater treatment plants, as these systems are not designed to deal with such contamination.“, biologists explain in a new study published July 6, 2021 in the journal Journal of Experimental Biology. Other products, such as drugs, can contaminate water, leading to profound disturbances in ecosystems. Aquatic animals there can see how their physiology and behavior are changing. In the midst of all these products, legal and illegal, floats methamphetamine. Addiction to it is considered one of the most important health threats. Traces of its consumption are found in waters around the world. “Methamphetamine has already been observed in the surface waters of the Czech Republic at the level of hundreds of nanograms per liter“, reported the authors of this new study. In this biology, they tried to find out if fish exposed to real concentrations of methamphetamine in the environment show signs of addiction. They used to make this common trout (Salmo trutta).
Trout become addicted to drugs
Sixty fish were placed in a tank and exposed to a concentration of methamphetamine that the researchers thought was essential: one microgram per liter, for eight weeks. “A concentration of one microgram per liter was selected as the mean level of methamphetamine treatment between the low (tens or hundreds of nanograms per liter) and high (25 micrograms per liter) levels found in surface waters worldwide.Sixty other fish were placed in a drug-free tank. After two months, they were all moved into the structure to test their behavior. In this tank each fish could choose between jets of water including methamphetamine and other healthy, two not to mix.
A trout that spent two months in water in which the drug became addicted, the researchers said. In fact, they preferably go into an aqueous medium containing methamphetamine and have been less active than others. In addition, biologists have found drug residues in the brain tissue of these fish. “Amphetamine was identified only in the brain tissue of the exposed trout and its presence decreased from 100% to 12.5% of individuals during the ten-day purification period.“, they explain. The addiction was therefore temporary, but powerful nonetheless. Researchers do not hesitate to talk about it.”drug-seeking behavior“, which in its nature can be extremely problematic. Fish exposed to methamphetamine can develop an addiction and seek proximity to sewage, a source of drugs.”Such unnatural attractiveness of the area, as well as behavioral changes, can lead to unintended ecological consequences affecting entire ecosystems.“, the researchers worry. Addicted fish could look for more drugs than food or a sexual partner that endangers their population.