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Drugs and the Internet

The aim of this new section of the Harm Reduction Journal is to present findings on novel and transformative harm reduction practices and contexts taking place in a digital or online setting, or through other related means.

The background for this section is the evolving digital society which generates new methods and settings for harm reduction and the user voice. The harm reduction approach in this context will mean a range of interventions, some of which will be established methods now mediated digitally, and some will be interventions that rely wholly on digital methods and that would not be possible otherwise.

We think of the digital as a many-faceted hybrid of platforms, devices, interfaces and data driven infrastructures that is intertwined into everyday life. We think of online as any activity that is mediated by digital systems, covering the myriad of relevant platforms from chatrooms to messaging apps to TikTok.

There is no definitive distinction between the on and offline, as the digital society seeps into every aspect of harm reduction practice and users’ lives. The digital provides new capacities for harm reduction services which we want to recognize, and also new threats in the form of surveillance and algorithm-led decision-making which can reinforce existing biases. Digital and online approaches can bridge distances and divides, and recreate inequalities and exploitation.

This section will be a place where harm reduction approaches can be studied in that context. We invite submissions around but not limited to the following themes:

  • Online user communities and activism, the ethics and politics of online harm reduction delivery, digital divides and inequalities in access and abilities, and legislation and policies impacting online harm reduction
  • Health and support delivery and monitoring provided through digital means and provision of digital and web outreach services
  • Affordances and risks of digital technology for harm reduction, and challenges of novel systems in harm reduction such as AI and machine learning. Changes in the digital society which affect users such as the introduction of algorithmic decision-making into criminal justice systems
  • Services delivered through apps, bots and the other means of online interactions with users, and hybrid harm reduction using online and face to face methods. Changed locations of harm reduction practice in the light of digital and online support such as the home and the street
  • Research methods using digital data infrastructures and capacities, such as big data analytics, netnography, digital trace methods and others, and challenges and opportunities related to the sharing and dissemination of data (for example, drug alerts/drug checking data) for online harm reduction
  • Changes in the context user groups operate in and the resulting changing risk landscape such as remote sex work, online drug purchase and delivery, virtual co-presence in alcohol and drug consumption (trip sitting) and the myriad other ways the digital and online worlds reshape the lives of service user communities
  • Intersections with other systems in digital contexts such as policing, health care, and digital platform management

Contact us

Submission enquiries:
General enquiries:

Section Editors

Angus Bancroft

Picture of co-section editor for drugs and the internet: Angus BancroftAngus Bancroft is Chair in Sociology at The University of Edinburgh, UK. He started working in the harm reduction field when researching the relationship between deprivation and cigarette addiction and the impact of parental drug and alcohol problems on children. His work now examines how digital drug markets reshape drug trafficking and consumption, and the effect of digital platforms on human security. He is currently Director of the Edinburgh Research Training Centre.

Aleksey Lakhov

Picture of co-section editor for drugs and the internet: Aleksey LakhovAleksey Lakhov has more than 15 years of experience in the area of editing and journalism, including writing on such topics as Internet, NGOs, HIV infection, viral hepatitis, substance use, and harm reduction. Since 2011, he has been working in different Russian NGOs in the field of HIV infection, viral hepatitis and substance abuse prevention. Aleksey used to work as the Development Director of the largest Russian harm reduction organization "Humanitarian Action" (Saint Petersburg), as well as the General Manager of the Harm Reduction NGOs Coalition "Outreach" (Tallinn, Estonia), and WHO, UNAIDS, UNODC, Coact consultant. Participated in several researches for peer-reviewed journals on new psychoactive substances and online harm reduction. Authored a web outreach manual for the UNODC Programme Office in Eastern Europe.

Annual Journal Metrics

  • 2022 Citation Impact
    4.4 - 2-year Impact Factor
    4.8 - 5-year Impact Factor
    1.506 - SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper)
    1.414 - SJR (SCImago Journal Rank)

    2023 Speed
    7 days submission to first editorial decision for all manuscripts (Median)
    131 days submission to accept (Median)

    2023 Usage 
    4,628 Altmetric mentions