06 Jun 2014
A recent survey found that there has been an increase in drugs being sold on the Internet, and the results indicate a rise in global drug use in general.
According to the Global Drugs Survey, 60 percent of respondents reported buying illegal drugs like marijuana and LSD online.
Main Reasons For Online Drug Trafficking Increase
What’s causing this increase in online drug trafficking? The main reason is sites that allow people to anonymously buy drugs using bitcoin peer-to-peer digital currency. The most famous online drug source was the original Silk Road online market, which was shut down by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in October, 2013. Drug officials also report the increase of online trafficking is because users often face the chance of being robbed or physically assaulted during face-to-face drug exchanges, so they feel that online transactions are safer.
Respondents to the Global Drug Survey reported that, just like overall Internet shopping, buying drugs online is faster, cheaper and there is a larger selection. The survey found that over 40 percent of participants said they were buying online for the first time, which proves that the web is a growing resource for drug users.
The overall cause of the increase in online drug purchases can be explained by the increase in drug use overall. The survey found that a third of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 used drugs, which had increased from a previous survey showing only a fifth of that amount. The Global Drug Survey collected data from 45 countries and 80,000 individuals.
Marijuana is the drug of choice in many countries. Brazil, France and the United States are countries with the highest rate of marijuana consumption. The survey found that 70 percent of Brazilian and American respondents used marijuana.
Another cause for the increase in global drug use can also be blamed on the legalization of marijuana. Countries around the world seem to have conflicting opinions on legalization. The United Nations reportedly feels that legalization poses a great danger to its country. However, Uruguay legalized the drug’s sale and production last year. In the United States, Colorado and Washington State were the first states to legalize the use of the drug recreationally, though with many limitations. In the Netherlands, possession of marijuana under five grams has been legal since 1976.
Something alarming that the survey found that was only about 20 percent of those 80,000 respondents reported ever seeking help or having feelings that marijuana use had a negative effect on their job or schooling.
Read More About How The War On Drugs Isn’t Effective At Protecting Youth
Illegal street drugs and prescription drug misuse can be tracked via emergency room visits. But what about “legal highs,” such as inhalants like glue and paint?
A study by Swedish researchers provides insight into the use of Methoxetamine, or MXE. The drug is classed as a “research chemical” and can be purchased online. The study was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
MXE is made from ketamine, a drug popularly used at clubs for its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects. Ketamine is also used for ketamine psychedelic psychotherapy, a tool used to treat depression and dependence disorders. MXE is similar in many ways to ketamine when used, but MXE tends to last longer and provide a more potent experience. The use of such substances can create a challenge for clinicians because they have little information about the contents of the drug, the interactions or side effects that are likely to occur with use.
The researchers used online public forums to examine postings about the use of MXE. This type of study, called a phenomenological review, is useful in collecting information about experiences and perceptions. The researchers were able to gather data from anonymous posters on the sites.
MXE users described dissociative properties similar to those associated with ketamine and altered states of consciousness. MXE was also reported as creating an elevated mood, an experience of euphoria, as well as long-lasting antidepressant effects, interests in new activities and personal growth.
The study’s design carries with it significant limitations. The use of anonymous reports to create a picture of the drug’s effects and risks is not the ideal way to measure the properties of a drug. However, the study provides important insight that could lead to more in-depth research. Next steps would include more systematic methods of research, including reliable measurements of effects, side effects and predictors for use.
Social Media’s Role In Mental Health Research And Drug Abuse Awareness
Social media is growing as a resource for mental health research. The use of public forums on drug use, combined with postings on other Internet sources, may not provide the same robust information as other types of study designs, but they may result in findings that provide a candid and unedited picture of users’ experiences.
The research may be helpful in raising awareness about the dangers of using chemicals to achieve a high similar to street drugs. Because they are legal and for sale on the Internet, users may misunderstand the level of danger attached to the use of these drugs. In addition to using the Internet to gather information about the use of MXE, social media may also be useful and play a role in raising awareness about the negative consequences of MXE use.