Novel Drugs, Novel Solutions : Exploring the potential of technological tools for prevention of drug abuse
Objectives: Drug abuse has increased markedly in the last decade especially with the emerging of the unregulated websites selling novel herbal, designer and pharmaceutical psychoactive products. These are advertised online as ‘legal’ or ‘pure’ and sold at very low prices. In this respect, the Recreational Drug European Network (ReDNet) aims to pilot various multimedia solutions focused on the prevention of drug abuse, which are based on technical and scientific information. The service is targeted at both professionals and young people. Methods: (a) monitoring the web for emerging novel drugs of abuse; (b) testing these products using the appropriate analytical techniques and (3) disseminating information via technological tools such as interactive websites, SMS alert, social networking (Facebook, Twitter), Multimedia (YouTube), Smartphone applications (iPhone), and seminars for professionals in the virtual learning environments (Second Life). Results: Up to date, 500 health professionals are using the interactive website on regular basis. The ReDNet Facebook page has 250 likes. Seminars for professionals on Second Life have started since January 2011. SMS alerts, phone applications and other innovative services will soon be available for health professionals and young people. Conclusions: The piloting of innovative ICT-based prevention programmes with respect to novel psychoactive drugs is an essential step to tackle their rapid diffusion and promote safer and knowledge-based online environments and healthier life styles.