Exploring Hidden Populations: Recreational Drug Users


The heterogeneous group of recreational drug users is usually inconspicuous in society. These individuals do not regard themselves as drug users in a conventional way and therefore hardly can be reached through traditional methods (e.g. heavy drug user studies). The benefits of psychological online research were examined by exploring the “hidden” population of recreational drug users. An international cross-continental online study was carried out surveying 9,268 recreational drug users from English and German speaking countries. The data was obtained via internet and evaluated by means of statistical inference, descriptive and structure-finding procedures. The research population collected online seems to differ in many variables from the “usual” clinical study population (e.g. age, sex). Results indicate a great degree of trust in online information and a strong use of the data highway (more than 72%) for getting information on substances. Besides the widely known advantages of using the internet for psychological research, experiences show strong evidence that the internet may not only be a new but in many cases also better tool for research in special psychological fields.
Author biographies

Birgit U. Stetina

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Reinhold Jagsch

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Cornelia Schramel

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Tamara Lederman Maman

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Ilse Kryspin-Exner

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