Czech trout hooked on tik? Stu

Image: Canva

Czech trout hooked on tik? Study shows crystal meth in waterways

A new study looked at the effects illicit drugs have on wildlife and found that trout can get addicted to methamphetamine.

Czech trout hooked on tik? Stu

Image: Canva

New research suggests that brown trout can become addicted to the illegal drug methamphetamine when it accumulates in waterways.

It is believed that drugs excreted from users pass through sewage systems and then discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which are not designed to treat this kind of contamination into waterways.

Turning trout into addicts

The study, which was published on 6 July 2021, was led by Pavel Horky, a behavioural ecologist from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague. Horky set out to investigate whether illicit drugs alter fish behaviour at levels found in bodies of water.

According to CNN, Horky and his team put 40 brown trout in a tank of water, containing a level of methamphetamine that has been found in freshwater rivers, for a period of eight weeks, before transferring them to a clean tank.

Every other day the researchers checked whether the trout were suffering from methamphetamine withdrawal by giving them a choice between water containing the drug or water without. A further 40 trout were used as a control group.

Trout that had spent eight weeks in water containing methamphetamine selected water containing the drug in the four days after moving to freshwater. The team found that this indicates they were suffering withdrawal because they sought out the drug when it became available. The addicted fish were less active than those that had never been exposed to methamphetamine and found traces of the drug in their brains up to 10 days after exposure.

The team concluded that even low levels of illicit drugs in bodies of water can affect the animals that live in them.

Fish sensitive to ‘drug cravings’

“Fish are sensitive to adverse effects of many neurologically active drugs from alcohol to cocaine and can develop drug addiction related to the dopamine reward pathway in a similar manner as humans,” Horky told CNN via email.

Horky raised concerns that drug addiction could make fish spend more time around water treatment discharges, which are unhealthy for them, in order to get another hit.

“Such effects could change the functioning of whole ecosystems as adverse consequences are of relevance at the individual as well as population levels,” he said.

Drug cravings could prove more powerful than natural rewards like foraging or mating, he added. The fish was later euthanised and their brain tissues analysed.

The human impact on the natural environment

The study ultimately underlines how humans pollute the natural environment beyond noticeable things like oil slicks and plastic waste.