Online interventions and virtual day centres for young people who use drugs: potential for harm reduction?

The methodological part of the large-scale study on the psychosocial distress of young people in Slovenia focused on vulnerable young people who use drugs and explored the potential of online interventions in harm reduction programmes. Authors looked at the needs of young people who, at the time of the research, were attending a virtual Discord day centre hosted by the DrogArt NGO or were involved in the organisation’s other programmes. Authors explored young people’s knowledge of online interventions, their satisfaction with them and the opportunities they offer for harm reduction programmes. Read more

Hydra: Lessons from the world’s largest darknet market

Autors present a comprehensive description of Hydra, the largest darknet marketplace in the world until its shutdown in April 2022. Read more

The Impact of Shutdowns of Dark Net Marketplaces on Street Crime

The Dark Net has changed the way drugs are traded globally by shifting trade away from the streets and onto the web. In this paper, author studies whether the shutdown of Dark Net marketplaces has an impact on the amount of drugs traded in the streets and on crimes that are normally associated to street drug dealing. Read more

Virtual overdose monitoring services and overdose prevention technologies

Overdose mortality has continued to rise in North America and across the globe in people who use drugs. Current harm reduction strategies such as supervised consumption sites and naloxone kit distribution have been important public health strategies implemented to decrease the harms associated with illicit drug use, however have key limitations which prevent their scalability. Read more

Automating Detection of Drug-Related Harms on Social Media: Machine Learning Framework

A hallmark of unregulated drug markets is their unpredictability and constant evolution with newly introduced substances. People who use drugs and the public health workforce are often unaware of the appearance of new drugs on the unregulated market and their type, safe dosage, and potential adverse effects. This increases risks to people who use drugs, including the risk of unknown consumption and unintentional drug poisoning. Early warning systems (EWSs) can help monitor the landscape of emerging drugs in a given community by collecting and tracking up-to-date information and determining trends. However, there are currently few ways to systematically monitor the appearance and harms of new drugs on the unregulated market in Canada. Read more

Effectiveness of a Web-Based Intervention for Preventing Substance Use in Young Adults

Substance use has been one of the most alarming public health problems worldwide, particularly among younger generations. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a web-based substance use prevention intervention targeted at adults aged 20-29 years. Read more

Who has a problem with chemsex?

Identity as a missing link in support services for men who engage in problematic use of psychoactive substances for sexual purposes. Read more

The adoption and sustainability of digital therapeutics in justice systems: A pilot feasibility study

This study explored whether participants with substance use disorder (SUD) would adopt and use a smart-phone app with a cognitive behavioral therapy program, weekly Brief Addiction Monitor (BAM) assessments, daily check-ins, tools to track sobriety and treatment, and other patient-centered resources. In addition, participants with SUD could access a social worker and peer support specialists. Read more

Using the Pan American Health Organization Digital Conversational Agent to Educate the Public on Alcohol Use and Health: Preliminary Analysis

There is widespread misinformation about the effects of alcohol consumption on health, which was amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic through social media and internet channels. Chatbots and conversational agents became an important piece of the World Health Organization (WHO) response during the COVID-19 pandemic to quickly disseminate evidence-based information related to COVID-19 and tobacco to the public. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) seized the opportunity to develop a conversational agent to talk about alcohol-related topics and therefore complement traditional forms of health education that have been promoted in the past. Read more

The Development and Use of Chatbots in Public Health: Scoping Review

Chatbots are computer programs that present a conversation-like interface through which people can access information and services. The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a substantial increase in the use of chatbots to support and complement traditional health care systems. However, despite the uptake in their use, evidence to support the development and deployment of chatbots in public health remains limited. Recent reviews have focused on the use of chatbots during the COVID-19 pandemic and the use of conversational agents in health care more generally. This paper complements this research and addresses a gap in the literature by assessing the breadth and scope of research evidence for the use of chatbots across the domain of public health. Read more