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  • Public defence: 2018-02-16 10:00 1 B 306, Fryxellsalen, Karlstad
    Soussan, Christophe
    Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Social and Psychological Studies.
    Novel Psychoactive Substances: Experienced effects, attitudes, and motivations among online drug community users2018Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of the present research is to contribute to the bridging of the knowledge gap pertaining to the field of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and its online community of users. The findings demonstrate that the community is characterized by robust group cohesiveness and counter public attitudes. The discussions functioned as a cumulative exchange of peer-to-peer generated knowledge and a social support system in service of harm reduction. The users were experienced drug users generally driven by recreation, novelty, and a range of instrumental purposes. They were also knowledgeable and presented a good degree of well-being. Some of the more conspicuous incentives for NPS use included the seeking of novel and exciting adventures, the enabling of safer drug use circumstances, and the guinea-pig-like self-experimenting in service of the community. Several distinct motivation and risk profiles were found at the level of drug groups. For example, the stimulants, opioids and GABA activating substances were associated with performance enhancement, coping, and high abuse liability, while the hallucinogens were related to self-exploration, spiritual attainment, and significantly lower abuse potential. Three user orientations are outlined: 1) the risk-negligent sensation seeker with an interest in stimulants and enhancement, 2) the self-medicating pursuer of coping with mistrust in public health and proneness for sedative drugs, and 3) the well-informed self-explorer advocating harm reduction and hallucinogens. It is concluded that the field of NPS needs to be approached with more sophistication than the broad brush approach of drugs in general. A one fits all preventive solution is likely to be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. We may also benefit from recognizing most drug use as an adaptive function with instrumental value rather than something pathologic, which will run the risk of fueling potentially harmful behaviors like self-medicating and avoidance of health care. Moreover, prohibition not only drives potentially harmful substance displacement but may also serve as the key incentive for engagement in risky behaviors. The current investigations could be a starting point for science based benefit-risk evaluations and the development of more appropriate prevention messages.