9.1 Social usersSocial users tend to be active seekers of information and rely strongly on their peers as a source. They are primarily interested in understanding what drugs to take, their likely effects and where to obtain them. This was consistent across all target audiences that fall within the social behavioural context - rave/ dance party attendees, young people aged 16-24 years, students, gay, lesbian and bisexual and general users aged 25 years and over.
The primary aim of accessing information for social users is understand the drugs and their effects in more detail, and enhance the social experience they have planned. As part of this, they also have an interest in understanding what risks might be associated with the different drugs in order to be able to monitor and manage use throughout the social experience.
"You don't want to get to messy and wipe yourself out…"
Older social users claimed to also rely strongly on their experience. Over time, they had become very well informed about drug type, quality, risks, harms, and management of these risks and harms from their own experiences and those of others. In addition to peers, many older social users had accessed information from other sources, such as GPs, health centres, and support services.
Social users also identified the Internet as an important source of information, with many claiming that at least one within their circle of friends used it regularly. Younger social users used the Internet more as a method to help plan the night ahead rather than only rely on peer information while already out for the night. The information they sourced tended to be the same as that they would learn gain from peers, about the drugs and likely effects, just in greater detail.
A typical example of the type of information sourced on the Internet was 'The Pill Report' that details the ingredients in different types of ecstasy tablets and posts comments on experiences from those who have used them. While methamphetamines do not have an equivalent website, social users had a great deal of interest in learning about the chemical composition of different methamphetamines different effects they produce. This type of information is readily shared with peers across a broad social circle.
The Internet was also used for information and guidance on managing use and minimising any risks and harms associated with use. While social users may look for this information in relation to all methamphetamines, it was considered as more relevant to the use of ice simply due to the perceived greater risk. This type of information will often be shared among a closer circle of friends than information related to drug types and effects. Some older, more experienced social users claimed that they had accessed information such as this from user websites by organisations such as NSW Users and Aids Association (NUAA) and the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL).
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Functional users in white or grey collar professions will more likely make use of the Internet to gain information. This medium will usually be accessible given their profession and enables the users to remain anonymous, effectively maintaining the secret of their drug use at work. It is highly likely that for Manic Mondays and Slippers in white and grey collar professions, the Internet is their only source of information within a functional context. Workers within white and grey collar professions could source information either from the Internet or from colleagues depending on the degree of secrecy surrounding their regular use.
Workers in blue collar professions source information predominantly from a small circle of peers with whom they more readily acknowledge use of methamphetamines within the workplace. On the other hand, Manic Mondays and Slippers in blue collar professions are likely to be attempting to keep their drug use a secret within the workplace and are less likely to try to source information even from colleagues they may know well. Figure 7 illustrates these possible avenues of information sources for users in a functional context. Dotted lines indicate potential for seeking information from that avenue depending on the secrecy surrounding drug use.
Figure 7: Source of information for functional users
Text version of Figure 7The figure illustrates two groups of professions: white/grey collar and blue collar. 'Manic Mondays' and 'slippers' in white/grey collar professions utilise the internet to source their information because anonymity hides secret use. Workers in white/grey collar professions source their information from either the internet or peers depending on the need for anonymity. Blue collar workers, 'Manic Mondays' and 'slippers' source information from peers.
9.3 Dependent usersDependents tend to draw on their own experiences for information, as well as on treatment and support services. As with other behavioural user types, dependents readily access certain information from their peers.
Dependents rely heavily on their past experience to assess quality and likely effects of drugs. They claimed to be extremely knowledgeable on the likely strength of different methamphetamines based on appearance, and on which mode of administration could be used to achieve the most effective high. For example, some had learnt from past experience that while they may prefer injecting base, they would only smoke ice. This was a very individual experience with different dependents having different preferences.
"It's better to inject goey, and smoke ice if that's what you end up with"
Treatment and support services were often accessed for 'new' information. Often this information would be on topics such as how to minimise possible harms from the mode of administration, such as minimising risk of vein damage as an injector. For this type of information, Heroin Co-Dependents would access heroin replacement treatment and support services, and 'Meth devotees' (often injectors) will source information from NSPs and user groups. Ice Zealots will continue to rely on peers who they use with socially.
Information from peers was generally related to continuing use. Dependents reported sharing information readily with other dependent users on topics such as:
- ways to manage 'money' – where and how to get more
- where to find more/ better quality/ preferred drugs
- how to make the hit last longer if a new form of methamphetamine has become the most readily available on the market, for example, ice over base and
- dealing with legal situations that arise – what to say and how to get help.
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