[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This paper presents the outcomes of the 2-year European Union funded Psychonaut Web Mapping Project which aimed at developing and implementing an integrated web mapping system to promptly identify and learn about novel psychoactive substances (NPS; "legal highs") through the regular monitoring of the Internet.
More than 200 discussion forums, social media, online shops, websites and other Internet resources (e.g. YouTube, eBay, Google, Google Insight) have been extensively and regularly monitored in 7 European countries (UK, Finland, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Spain) for emerging trends of NPS throughout the period of the study.
Key online resources have been identified as "leading edge" which have provided accurate and timely information on novel emerging compounds. In total more than 400 substances/products have been recorded. NPS have been noted online before reaching wider audiences.
Although a high number of novel psychoactive substances have been identified in the 2-year duration of the project, not all have become trends that needed public health response. Conversely, new recreational drug phenomena such as "spice drugs," mephedrone and naphyrone were all identified as emerging trends in forums and websites. In addition, it has been possible for the first time to collate detailed information on these and several more compounds even though no or limited scientific publications were available. It is therefore recommended that these monitoring activities are to be continued, that more countries, researchers and health professionals are involved, and that the findings are widely shared with all the relevant agencies, health professionals and future research projects. Implications, advantages and limitations of using the Internet as primary source for identifying emerging trends are also discussed.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to foster the collection and analysis of data from web pages related to information on the consumption, manufacture and sale of Spice products, a brand name for an herbal smoking blend, sold as legal substitute for cannabis. The Google search engine was used to carry out an 8-language qualitative assessment of information available on Spice products in a sample of about 200 web sites. The level of information elicited included both the users' comments on the effects of the products and the reasons behind their popularity. Users' suggestions on unusual drug combinations not found in the Medline were also identified. This is the first comprehensive and multilingual overview of the online available information on Spice products. The appeal of Spice to online customers was associated with its legal status, lack of detection in biological samples, ease of online access and cannabis-like effects. Spice product descriptions did not typically mention the presence of the powerful synthetic THC receptor agonists that seem to account for the psychoactive effects. Health professionals may need to be aware of the web being a new drug resource for both information and purchase of Spice products.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · International Journal of Culture and Mental Health