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Harms and benefits associated with psychoactive drugs: findings of an international survey of active drug users.

Morgan, CJ; Noronha, LA; Muetzelfeldt, M; Fielding, A; Curran, HV; (2013) Harms and benefits associated with psychoactive drugs: findings of an international survey of active drug users. J Psychopharmacol , 27 (6) 497 - 506. 10.1177/0269881113477744. Green open access

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Abstract

There have been several recent efforts in the UK and the Netherlands to describe the harms of psychoactive substances based on ratings of either experts or drug users. This study aimed to assess the perceived benefits as well as harms of widely used recreational drugs, both licit and illicit, in an international sample of drug users. The survey was hosted at https://www.internationaldrugsurvey.org/ and was available in three languages. Residents reported their experience of 15 commonly used drugs or drug classes; regular users then rated their harms and benefits. In all, 5791 individuals from over 40 countries completed the survey, although the majority were from English speaking countries. Rankings of drugs differed across 10 categories of perceived benefits. Skunk and herbal cannabis were ranked consistently beneficial, whilst alcohol and tobacco fell below many classified drugs. There was no correlation at all between users' harm ranking of drugs and their classification in schedules of the USA or ABC system in the UK. Prescription analgesics, alcohol and tobacco were ranked within the top 10 most harmful drugs. These findings suggest that neither the UK nor US classification systems act to inform users of the harms of psychoactive substances. It is hoped the results might inform health professionals and educators of what are considered to be both the harms and benefits of psychoactive substances to young people.

Type: Article
Title: Harms and benefits associated with psychoactive drugs: findings of an international survey of active drug users.
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0269881113477744
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0269881113477744
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2013. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page(http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
Keywords: Alcohol, benefits, cannabis, drug abuse, ecstasy, harms, legal status
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1398788
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