E-Psychonauts : Conducting research in online drug forum communities
Background "Legal highs" are becoming increasingly common features of the recreational drug market. The Internet has emerged as an important resource for technical and pharmacological knowledge in the absence of evidence-based literature, and for identifying emerging trends. Self-established drug-related Internet forums have emerged as particularly useful sources of information.Aims It was the aim of this study to explore the key features of drug-related Internet forums and the drug forum communities.Methods Within the framework of the larger Psychonaut Web Mapping project, eight English-language drug forums were assessed, and key features, categories, themes and attributions were identified.Results The results are reported taking into account ethical issues, such as anonymity and confidentiality, associated with research in online communities.Conclusions This study identified strong, unified and unique communities of recreational drug users that can provide an insight into the growing market in new drugs and drug compounds, and may be key components in future research, harm reduction and prevention strategies.
Published inJournal of Mental Health