Drugs 2 point zero
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

How drug treatment is following drug dealing onto the internet

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The internet has revolutionised the way that drugs are created and sold. There is an increasing number of online drug dealing sites and now treatment is getting in on the online act with a proliferation of computer assisted therapies.

Online Drug dealing

In Carole Cadwalladr’s (@carolecadwalla) recent review of Drugs 2.0, the new book by Mike Power (@mrmichaelpower), she noted that long before Amazon, people were selling marijuana online.

Drugs 2.0 (full title: The Web Revolution that’s changing how the world gets high) explores the wide range of ways that the internet has changed the drug scene.

Most people know that there a number of large scale drug selling websites – Silk Road, the best known, was temporarily knocked offline by a hacker earlier this month.

However, Drugs 2.0 also delves into the world of online chemistry and how new legal highs are being created and shared all the time.

The book charts the incredibly rapid rise of mephedrone when underground chemist Kinetic posted the formula and step-by-step production process online.

It also includes information about the drug processing labs in China who are turning out hundreds of new synthetic drugs (whose side-effects are, inevitably, unknowable) and shipping them to Europe.

If you want to read more about drugs and rogue chemists, super-labs and criminal drugs, Drugs 2.0 is well worth a read.

Drug treatment follows suit

There have been a number of online approaches to drug and alcohol treatment developed over recent years and a bunch of apps.

The ones I’ve looked at have been, in the main, not very well thought through.

One exception is the excellent app by @UturnTraining which guides people through the process of saving the life of an overdosed heroin user by administering naloxone.

Recently I was sent through information about Breaking Free Online – an online treatment and recovery programme.

It is essential a Computer Assisted Therapy which uses a range of multi-media formats.

I’ve had a cursory look and after a self-assessment process, the programme suggests areas of your life to work on, providing both a range of strategies and downloadable resources.

I’m not a treatment expert but it looks as if there has been considerable effort and thought put into the design with a focus on using evidence-based interventions in a user-friendly way.

There is also a section which enables people to find local treatment services, and AA, NA and SMART recovery meetings.

My initial impression is that this sort of service would work very well in combination with mainstream services, especially when the existing worker is aware of the programme and understands the basics of the Computer Assisted Therapy approach.

I’ve always thought online support is particularly valuable to people who are isolated and vulnerable or restricted to home because of caring duties.

The alcohol version of the progamme is now available as an app on IoS with other platforms to follow.

The drug version will also be coming out as an app this year.

Here’s the promotional video:

I’d be very interested in readers’ experience of using Computer Assisted Therapies for substance misuse issues – please comment below.

 

[Note: I have no commercial interest in Breaking Free, other applications are available. Check out this post for other online drug treatment resources.]

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