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Educated Guesses and Other Ways to Address the Pharmacological Uncertainty of Designer Drugs: An Exploratory Study of Experimentation Through an Online Drug Forum

Contemporary Drug Problems, 2016, Vol.43(3), pp.277-292 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Educated Guesses and Other Ways to Address the Pharmacological Uncertainty of Designer Drugs: An Exploratory Study of Experimentation Through an Online Drug Forum
  • Author: Berning, M. ; Hardon, A.
  • Contributor: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body
  • Found In: Contemporary Drug Problems, 2016, Vol.43(3), pp.277-292 [Peer Reviewed Journal]
  • Subjects: Ethnography ; Harm Reduction ; Drugs And The Internet ; Experimentation ; Uncertainty ; Edgework
  • Language: English
  • Description: This study examines how experimentation with designer drugs is mediated by the Internet. We selected a popular drug forum that presents reports on self-experimentation with little or even completely unexplored designer drugs to examine: (1) how participants report their “trying out” of new compounds and (2) how participants reduce the pharmacological uncertainty associated with using these substances. Our methods included passive observation online, engaging more actively with the online community using an avatar, and off-line interviews with key interlocutors to validate our online findings. This article reflects on how forum participants experiment with designer drugs, their trust in suppliers and the testimonials of others, the use of ethno-scientific techniques that involve numerical weighing, “allergy dosing,” and the use of standardized trip reports. We suggest that these techniques contribute to a sense of control in the face of the possible toxicity of unknown or little-known designer drugs. The online reporting of effects allows users to experience not only the thrill of a new kind of high but also connection with others in the self-experimenting drug community.
  • Identifier: ISSN: ; ISSN: 0091-4509

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