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Drugs? No shit.

  [vote for,

It turns out that England's once glorious sewage is now betainted with all manner of drugs. Illegal ones such as cocaine make the headlines, but plenty of legal ones end up in our drains too. This is not surprising, since most drugs are excreted faster than they're metabolized.

Taking cocaine as an example, there is apparently about 0.7g of the stuff per day in sewage, per 1000 people, in London. Given a London population of 8 million people, that's 5.6kg/day, or about a million quid's worth (assuming that it's cut significantly before being sold).

Marketing this recycled material might be tricky. However, much cocaine already reaches its customers via someone's bottom, so it's not an insuperable problem.

MaxwellBuchanan, May 22 2019

https://www.gponlin...ugs/article/1029048 [hippo, May 23 2019]

Money Laundering machine Money_20Laundering_20machine
shameless plug [Loris, May 23 2019]

Fatberg recycling https://fatbergremoval.com/
Looking at the truck names (Megatron, Terminator) this fatberg recycling outfit may have already baked this. [notripe, May 23 2019]


       As progress marches on, the Amish way of life looks less and less silly.
doctorremulac3, May 22 2019

       After brexit meltdown, those figure may escalate significantly.
xenzag, May 22 2019

       This no doubt accounts for the propensity of some celebrities to consume the output if their own kidneys.   

       // most drugs are excreted faster than they're metabolized //   

       Based on that fact, is there a market for a compact modified dialysis technology to recover for re-use unmetabolized pharmaceutical s ?
8th of 7, May 22 2019

       Years ago I saw a startup company that proposed to cart away millions of gallons of piss from festivals such as Glastonbury, separate out all the RNAs / polypeptides / etc found in it, and sell them to the biotech industry.   

       It occurred to me to wonder how much cocaine, amphetamine, ketamine etc they'd end up with as a byproduct of this process, and who they planned to sell these, er, "biomolecules" to.
Wrongfellow, May 22 2019

       Why would they sell them ? Why not just keep them for personal entertainment ?
8th of 7, May 22 2019

       Is this the ultimate homeopathic remedy? How can anybody possibly be ill ever again?
RayfordSteele, May 22 2019

       //recover for re-use unmetabolized pharmaceutical s// Yes, I was thinking about that too, especially for new drugs that are horrendously expensive.   

       The problem with that, though, is that the high prices of some new drugs are not related to manufacturing costs, but are instead based on the desire of the pharma company to recoup their R&D investment and make a profit. So, if you start recycling the drugs, they'll just adjust their pricing. In fact, they'll probably sell you the recycling equipment for a hefty fee.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       Like most things, active parts won't be active for very long.
wjt, May 23 2019

       Depends on the drug. Many (especially antibody-based drugs) will be broken down by bacteria or simply by oxidation, but many won't.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       True, thinking about it again, the drugs can be just solid shaped rocks affecting the active sites in the body rather than being active themselves. I suppose if the rocks crystallize or have a good reversible bind they can be purified enough.
wjt, May 23 2019

MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       What about commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs (see link)? Would they leave active ingredients in sewage?
hippo, May 23 2019

       Probably, but see above on the economics of drug recycling.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       Actually, given the preferred use of rolled-up banknotes, I wonder if money launderers recover their waste water.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       [Max] - indeed, the economics of drugs are almost entirely unlinked to their production costs. What I was actually thinking about was whether there's enough of these drugs (the very common pharmaceutical drugs) to have any effect. My guess is that the concentration is so low as to be homeopathic - in which case we should market tap water as a homeopathic remedy for all sorts of ailments.

So (and hang on, as there's some sketchy logic coming up) Simvastatin is listed as the most-prescribed drug on that list. This drug is supposed to do stuff to you but also has some unwelcome side-effects (from Wikipedia: "Common side effects include constipation, headaches, and nausea"). Homeopathy works, as we all know, by an infinitesimally-low concentration of a chemical causing the opposite of the effect of that chemical, so it follows that tap water can be marketed as a drug which cures constipation, headaches, and nausea.
hippo, May 23 2019

       I like it. Anything that wrings money out of gullible homeopathologists has my vote.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       //Actually, given the preferred use of rolled-up banknotes, I wonder if money launderers recover their waste water.//   

Loris, May 23 2019

       I bow to [Loris]'s prescience on this one.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 23 2019

       5.6kg/day in a large weight of what? Not really that feasible, really. Or is there some reality that reverses the m.f.d. because of magic
wjt, May 24 2019

       What's the definition of a 'drug'?
xenzag, May 24 2019

       A drug is any pharmacologically active substance.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 24 2019

       Surely everything is pharmacologically active? - some things just not very much
hippo, May 24 2019

       Well, possibly. A brick can be pharmacologically active if it's dropped from high enough.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 24 2019

       Active? In what way? What does pharmacologically active mean (?) as this definition would mean that marijuana is not a drug, as it's a plant that grows like any other plant, yet it's classified as a drug, so (again) what's a drug?
xenzag, May 24 2019

       //Active? In what way?// Well, it can induce sudden and potentially permanent anaesthesia, for instance.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 24 2019

       Yes, but anything can induce sudden and potentially permanent anaesthesia, in sufficient quantity
hippo, May 24 2019

       //What does pharmacologically active mean (?) as this definition would mean that marijuana is not a drug, as it's a plant that grows like any other plant//   

       Is there some reason to believe that plants cannot be pharmacologically active?   

       (And if you have to ask what it means, how can you draw this conclusion?)
Wrongfellow, May 24 2019

       Indeed. Many plants (or at least things in plants) are pharmacologically active. Many current medicines are either purified from plants, or are synthetic copies of plant compounds. It's the difference between herbalism (which can sometimes work) and homeopathy (which works well as a way of getting money out of morons).
MaxwellBuchanan, May 24 2019

       No one is offering any definitions for the terms they are using. As far as I'm concerned there is no such thing as a 'drug', except as a term with no meaning that's used by governments when it suits them to control people's behaviour.
xenzag, May 24 2019

       Oh for goodness' sake, [xen], grow up or buy a tinfoil hat.   

       If you want a definition of "drug" go to Wikipedia.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 24 2019

       A drug is something xenzag has had too much of, methinks.
RayfordSteele, May 25 2019

       Aside: What is considered the highest known potent drug?.   

       5.6 kg in [8 million x 60g (bacteria/particulate food) + 8million* 1.01g/ml* 1400 ml (urine) + sewage water weight(flush volume) + paper weight (also known as wipe weight) + the weight of everything else put into the system] is not going to be active but is also a needle in a hamlet.
wjt, May 25 2019

       //If you want a definition of "drug" go to Wikipedia// Believe it or not I've already read that, but it still fails to define what a 'drug' is, as every single substance fits the 'definition', so the question remains unanswered. Perhaps someone would like to try again and define this term 'drug' which has no meaning.
xenzag, May 25 2019

       Well, no. Nutrients, for examples, are not drugs under the Wikipedia definition. Nor are verbs, teacups or hours.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2019

       There are nutrients and combinations of nutrients can change the way you think and behave, especially in excess amounts. Children for example can become hyper active if they take in too much sugar, regardless of the source. The whole drug/legal 'debate' is totally government(s) driven. It's a way of controlling behaviour. Meanwhile this moronic illegality generates the most damaging aspect of labelling certain compounds as drugs - criminal empires. Sugar causes millions more deaths and damage than heroin, but sugar is legal, despite having all of the characteristics that fit the descriptor of being a drug.
xenzag, May 25 2019

       //The whole drug/legal 'debate' is totally government(s) driven. It's a way of controlling behaviour.// Yes, it's essentially a decision by the UK government that they'd prefer their population not to be stoned out of its tiny mind. Funny, that. Isn't it the same in France?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 25 2019

       I have no idea about France, but alcohol is legal in the UK and heavy drinking causes a million times more problems than people who take 'drugs'. It's the idiocy of governments that keeps every aspect of the drug trade in the hands of criminals, and they run rings around the police in every country with total ease.
xenzag, May 26 2019

       So, who gets to decide which drugs (and I presume you are interested only in recreational drugs) are legal? Or do we just legalize everything?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 26 2019

       Once glorious sewage? Some unknown verse in the national anthem?
po, May 26 2019

       sp: Drugs? No, shit.   

       I'm surprised we got this far without someone* rectifying the obviously glaring near-fatal punctuation omission.   

Sgt Teacup, May 26 2019

       //Or do we just legalize everything// Yes. There is no reason to make any 'drug' 'illegal'. 'Drugs' can be licensed and sold in controlled conditions in exactly the same way as alcohol is. Result? No more criminal empires: no more impurities. It's refusal to do this that has created all of the problems. Idiot politicians in action.
xenzag, May 26 2019

       Doesn't the oxycodone experience count against that position, [xenzag]?   

       In that case, if I've understood it right, a number of psychopaths seem to have enriched themselves by getting large numbers of people chemically addicted to an opioid under supposedly controlled conditions, and there is no legal recourse against those psychopaths.   

       Technically, they don't constitute a criminal empire, but for some reason I don't find that comforting.
pertinax, Jun 07 2019

       What [xenzag] said.   

       Wait ... did we just agree with ... eh?   

       Excuse us, we need to check we haven't accidentally shifted into an alternate timeline ...
8th of 7, Jun 07 2019

       //Yes. There is no reason to make any 'drug' 'illegal'// I suppose it is a good population control but it will place a larger burden on societies health systems, not to mention policing systems if alcohol is anything to go by.   

       If you have a valid use, 'illegal' is just another locked door to ask the keys to.
wjt, Jun 09 2019


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