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Super Bowl Illegal Drug Use Update

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Super Bowl weekend is upon us, and you all know what that means: Time to set aside the crystal meth and break out the cocaine.

At least, that’s what it meant to the greater Las Vegas area in 2010. An analysis of Southern Nevada wastewater found partiers were ingesting more than just chips and guacamole, and their choice of illegal stimulant differed significantly from a more sedate weekend.

Writing in the journal Water Research, a team led by Daniel Gerrity describe a study comparing the levels of various drugs in samples collected from a municipal wastewater treatment plant. The precise location is unnamed, but one co-author is identified as working for the River Mountain Water Treatment Facility of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. That fact, along with a note that the Super Bowl “causes a tremendous spike in tourism” to the region, pretty much narrows it down to Vegas.

The researchers took a series of samples on Feb. 7 and 8, 2010, and again on March 7 and 8, a relatively quiet weekend in the desert resort city. Among their findings is this intriguing statement: “Limited evidence suggests that cocaine use was elevated during Super Bowl weekend as compared to the baseline, whereas methamphetamine use was slightly lower.”

Of course, it’s impossible to say whether Super Bowl parties inspired greater cocaine use, or whether the game attracted a different, more hard-partying crowd to the city. It’s also not clear whether the March figures truly represent a baseline: The researchers conclude their paper suggesting more study is needed to determine “normal” level of these and other pharmaceuticals.

Personally, I’d love to run these same numbers during a Breaking Bad marathon.