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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Fiona Measham

O'Brien, K., Chatwin, C., Jenkins, C. & Measham, F. (2015). New psychoactive substances and British drug policy: A view from the cyber-psychonauts. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy 22(3): 217-223.

Author(s) from Durham


Aims: (i) To collect data on the consumption patterns, purchase patterns and motivations of the online NPS community, and (ii) engage this specific group of NPS users in an exploration of recent policy developments in the UK focusing on their experiences of new legislative controls and the perceived harms they may cause, and eliciting their suggestions for future policy developments in this area. Methods: We employed an exploratory online methodology comprising a survey and participatory online research designed to interact and engage with experienced users of NPS. Findings: The findings of our small-scale exploratory study illustrate that what we term the cyber-psychonauts are well equipped to make a valuable contribution to NPS policy debates in general, and are ideally placed to report on the effects of recent policy changes on NPS-related harms in particular. The majority of NPS users in our study supported the introduction of a regulated market for NPS, which would not criminalise users and which would focus on the reduction of NPS-related harm. Conclusions: We argue that the cyber-psychonauts are well placed to contribute to NPS-related drug policy debates and, furthermore, that there may be a role for them in disseminating emerging information about NPS-related harm.