Illicit drug abuse presents pervasive adverse consequences for human societies around the world. Illicit drug consumption also plays an unexpected role in contamination of aquatic ecosystems that receive wastewater discharges. Here, we show that methamphetamine, considered as one of the most important global health threats, causes addiction and behavior alteration of brown trout Salmo trutta at environmentally relevant concentrations (1 µg l−1). Altered movement behavior and preference for methamphetamine during withdrawal were linked to drug residues in fish brain tissues and accompanied by brain metabolome changes. Our results suggest that emission of illicit drugs into freshwater ecosystems causes addiction in fish and modifies habitat preferences with unexpected adverse consequences of relevance at the individual and population levels. As such, our study identifies transmission of human societal problems to aquatic ecosystems.

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