1. Synthetic opioids in Sweden: Analyses of public webforum discussions
Sweden has one of the highest per capita death rates from drugs in Europe, and synthetic opioids are growing concern. A period of tolerated retail sale and possession of clandestinely produced fentanyl analogues from 2012-2019 provided insights into the demand-side of this market. We examined preferences for specific analogues and the effects of scheduling on buyer interest.
Data was scraped from the public Swedish language webforum Flashback.org with a very high national coverage. Each post (n = 8761) has a date, time, and content, amenable to quantitative and qualitative analysis.
The scheduling process, where new analogues are introduced as others are banned, spurred comparisons of the psychoactive effects of different fentanyl analogues, and revealed a keen sense of fairness in pricing among users. Fentanyl analogues have different psychoactive properties. Users often perceive the quality of newly introduced analogues to be lower. The quantitative effects of an analogue being scheduled was a decline in user’s interest in posting about the specific analogue.
Social media provide a new forum for information sharing among users, beyond their immediate social network. The relative interest in different substances can provide indications of future challenges for national drug control policies. Social media enable users to share information on availability, quality and prices, but is also used communicate authorities’ new control measures. Providing a venue for potentially increasing the deterrent effect of adjustments to sentence severity. Disclosure of interest: This research was funded by an internal grant from Malmö University.