Last night Episode 4 of Enpsychedelia was released. Along with some other great content, it features an interview with me about the cannabis growers project and other musings on drug policy, the influence of research on government and collective action towards critically evaluating and reforming our drug laws.

You can listen here:

Thanks Nick Wallis for the opportunity. Hope to do it again and looking forward to the next installment.

Drugs and online/offline sociability

Wow it’s been months since I’ve posted. Never fear, I’ve been working away, launching projects and trying to finish off others. Looking forward to writing some dedicated blog posts soon.

In the meantime, an announcement that I’ll be presenting some work from my PhD at VSURF (the Victorian Substance Use Research Forum) next Friday, see below. I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

Date: Friday August 17, 4pm

Title: Drugs and online/offline sociability: Understanding anonymity in an era of media convergence

Presenter: Monica Barratt (NDRI, Curtin University)

Venue: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, 54 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Abstract: Most research about illicit drugs and the internet treats the internet as a tool for consuming and sharing information, delivering interventions, and/or purchasing drugs. In contrast, this paper considers the internet as facilitating multiple ‘online places’ where social interaction occurs, relationships are made and maintained, identities are performed and meanings are negotiated. This paper draws on analyses from a qualitatively-driven mixed-method study of public internet forums where party drugs were discussed by Australians in 2007–08. It outlines the variety of ways that people who use party drugs managed the convergence of online and offline friendship networks and subsequent changes in their drug use practices. In a context of increased media convergence, online anonymity has become more difficult to realise, and new social-media interventions that rely on identified social networks cannot be as easily engaged by ‘hidden’ drug users. ‘Old’ pseudonymous media (e.g., internet forums) may still offer opportunities not afforded by new media forms in the current context of drug prohibition.

Drugs, the internet, and the internet filter #6dyp

I’m presenting this today. In case you can’t be there, or were there and want to follow up any of the points I made, here’s the presentation! Remember to press ‘full screen’ 🙂

All comments warmly welcomed!


Young people participating meaningfully in drug research

I’ve been attending the 6th International Conference on Drugs and Young People – it’s been fantastic. I’ve been especially pleased with the focus on meaningful participation of young people in research, a topic that I’ve been passionate about for a while now. It’s about human rights, and really, it does make sense that young people would be the experts on what they want!

Yesterday I discovered the existence of a new research centre in Brisbane called the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse. Angela White and her colleagues presented their experiences on engaging young people in research: what worked and what didn’t, and how it actually fed into the development of their materials, including harm reduction leaflets and an alcohol monitoring iPhone app.

It is impressive to me that they actually have meaningful engagement as a goal in their organisational mandate, something that is probably a first for an AOD research organisation, at least in Australia if not further afield.

Other tidbits:

  • young people want organisations to act professionally – don’t use ‘young people slang’ to try and look ‘cool’
  • young people are suspicious of organisations wanting to preach to them about drugs – avoid this!
  • young people enjoyed being consulted if done so respectfully
  • they need to see the recommendations are acted upon!
  • one size does not fit all – eg. university students have different opinions and needs to youth service users

I asked Caroline Salom whether any young people were concerned about the term ‘substance abuse’ being in the title of the organisation. My experience moderating Bluelight is that the drug users there tend to be less trusting of an organisation that has embedded in its name an assumption about drug use being inherrent wrong. Caroline was not sure whether this had been an issue for the young people they spoke to. Perhaps when you meet in person (unlike on Bluelight, an online forum) these things are less of an issue when establishing trust.