COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Substance Misuse: A Social Media Listening, Mixed Method Analysis
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Qualitative Analysis
2.2. Data Collection and Privacy Disclaimer
3.1. Number of Subreddits and Their Classification
3.2. Included and Excluded Subreddits
3.3. Clinical and Pharmacological Subreddits′ Classification
3.4. Supplements and Remedies
3.5. Main Themes Being Discussed
3.5.1. Main Theme 1. The Lockdown-Associated: Immunity; Psychotropic(s) of Choice; and Drug Dosage/Intake Issues
- (…) Substances that boost immune response? (…) Im curious in both recreational and non recreational ones. (…) Edit: please provide evidence for claims while making them…….
- (…) i read kratom actually boosts your immune system. I could swear thats why I never get sick lol—Maybe don′t do MDMA or other drugs that mess with your immune system);
- (…) Hey, sorry is this is a dumb question, but: is there anything I can do to molly to make sure that COVID isn’t on it? Should I attempt to wash the pill, or?);
- (…) A cocaine only diet provides all the nutrients you need. Food is just a burden for the weak).
- (…) So cocaine doesn′t cure covid-19?; I doubt that vaping cannabis will affect your immune system very much.
- (…) Anyone know if suboxone effects the immune system much? If the answer is yes don′t tell me, I get severe health anxiety. e.g., What if you have AD/HD and use amphetamines daily as treatment? Will this impact my immune system if I stick to the dosages I′ve been instructed to use by my physician?; e.g., Tripping with Schizophrenia (opinions?).
- Sub-theme 2. Looking for the optimal recreational/prescribing drugs, alone or in combination, to cope with the pandemic. Table S2, pages 1–3.
- (…) I am bored in quarantine and I am out of weed and benzo as my dealer got coronavirus and stopped delivering. I am looking for another way to get high—DMT, Shrooms, Ketamine, Edibles/Weed, Opioids, Benzos, Cocaine are all good indoor drugs.—Cant smoke in my house when parents are in, need a non smelly drug.
- (…) What’s in your doomsday stash? What would you still like to add before lockdown happens (assuming we end up like Italy)? What kind of activities do you like to do while high to pass the time? Here’s a rundown of what I’ve got: Codeine 30 mg; lots of it. Weed in various forms from the dispensary (3 vape carts, 4 bags of gummies, 2 g of flower, 2 strains I grew myself, etc). CBD flower & isolate. Kratom; lots of it. Benzedrex inhalers × 2. Caffeine tablets, 200 mg. Xanax, 0.5 mg. Norco (as of yesterday, thanks dentist!), 7.5 mg × 20 tabs. Fioricet × about 20 tablets. Coca powder & tea bags × 100 g powder, 5 teabags. Various random drugs I don’t take (methocarbomol, alcohol, guanfacine, klonopin, phentermine).—I work from home right now, so cocaine is next to my workstation—Forced to detox off amphetamine because it doesnt get made in my country and every country in eu is on lockdown…Maybe i’ll turn into alcohol or weed for the time being who knows.)
- (…) (e.g., a bit of weed + a sniff of midma + a bit of acid all while coming up on some that juicy rona fever stay safe but if you hit that rona make sure to stay hydrated edit: ok i’m not funny this is just a joke about covid-19 fever: (; Phenibut + caffeine + weed + xanax is fucking awesome
- (…)—Anybody else ever make “potions”? Examples would be ground klonopin in Kratom tea, maybe a splash of vodka or something. Wine, vodka, beer, vyvanse all mixed together. Etc, etc. Quarantine has clearly driven me crazy).
- (…) Will i feel anything on 95 mg od codeine? … so i have A couple of codeine phosphas + sulfgogaiacolum shit will this get me high? I’m just so desperate cuz covid makes everything so hard to get—I can no longer workout without getting high.
- (…) However due to the Covid-19 lockdown, I’ve had to workout at home. Being at home has led to me getting high on the reg, and before working out cause it feels AMAZING.
- (…) I don’t feel the need to take the Tramadol generally, but to workout I feel like I need it).
- (…) ADHD medication… Does anyone know if doctors are allowed to mail the prescription in the mail so I can take it to a pharmacy here?
- (…) Quit Heroin due to quarantine. Don’t applaud, I’m still using all kinds of other shit.—Trams anyone? I have no access to my other vices except trams.
- (…) Quitting Smoking (tobacco) During an Impossibly Stressful Time I’ve been trying to keep myself distracted, but I honestly wasn’t prepared for the intensity to which my depression has worsened as a result of this.—Nicotine withdrawals weren’t too bad).
- (…) Too anxious to smoke up … Concentrates and herb vaping should be easier on your lungs just empty the joints if you have a vape. Also oral and sublingual methods, edibles/tincture/distillate.
3.5.2. Main Theme 2. Life at the Time of COVID-19; Drug Dealing; Drug-Related Behaviour; and Post-Quarantine Plans’ Issues
- (…) My dealer just dropped off a whole care package for me, lsd, shrooms, shatter and dmt… The man knows what I like… Tells me he knows that times are tough, that being stuck at home sucks and he hopes this helps and didnt ask for a penny.
- (…) They’ve gotten more expensive where I live—Where I live, supply and demand have both gone up. Shit’s popping off more than ever but they have no problems keeping it stocked
- (…) I think the biggest impact will be on supply chain. Will dealers stop selling? Definitely not, that’d mean giving up a source of income in a time of high unemployment. The supply chain thus spreads the virus. Lockdowns and quarantines will not deter addicts.
- (…) I’m gonna use this quarantine to get sober and hopefully get back to just socially drinking/using—Please tell me I’m not the only one this desperate
- (…) I scraped my grinder with a pocket knife for an hour and rolled a spliff that tasted like plastic. Due to my low tolerance it kinda worked though. These quarantine times got me doing desperate shit;).
- (…) I finally wrote a report on DMT … I was stricken with worry about their fate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I began to project how I would feel if they were to pass from it, to empathize with that potential future trauma.—Worst time to trip
- (…) Got crazy drunk last night, took a heroic dose of acid, throwing up on acid is rough, throwing up thinking you have corona virus is the absolute worse thing ever. Still tripping, life is definitely weird rn).
- (…) I am not into conspiracies, but I can’t help thinking about e.g., DMT being illegal around the world.—Think about your National Health Service please
- (…) You might think you know what you can handle but right now is not the time to risk it. This is for your benefit too—Nice haha, yeah I think this quarantine has affected everyone for better or for worse).
- (…) How to Structure Multiple-Drug Trip (Weed, LSD, Shrooms, DMT, E)
- (…) Me and a couple of friends are looking to go on an Airbnb trip post-quarantine (thinking of 5 days, not sure though) and we’re wondering how exactly we should structure our time).
3.5.3. Main Theme 3. Lockdown-Related Psychopathological Issues
- (…) a week after I got off the Methadone, the whole Covid-19 crap and other stuff in my life whacked me with hella stress, anxiety, and palpitations. Soooo I’m back on the dope:/just trying to not lose it completely. What I need is to find a psychiatrist and counselor—I have all the same things in my mind every day actually. I want to take some drugs but trying prevent me from this. Also i’m in mental struggle with myself that borders with the depression.
- (…) HPPD keeps giving me a shit ton of anxiety, advice? (…) Now that i’m in quarantine i can’t stop thinking about it). Table S2, Pages 10–11
3.5.4. Main Theme 4. Peer-to-Peer Advice at the Time of COVID-19
- (…) Before you take a heroic dose or try a new drug/batch … Please make certain what you are doing is safe. Hospitals are more overloaded than usual due to COVID-19.
- (…) Meditate for Peace, Health and Happiness. Develop Monk-Like Discipline and Peace of Mind During These Anxious and Uncertain Times. Wishing everyone all the love, joy and blessings
- (…) Day #1—Join me in the Dopamine Fasting Challenge during the COVID Self Isolation!). Table S2, Pages 9–11
3.6. Categories/Types of Users
3.6.1. Type 1. Redditors Considering Continuing the Use of Drugs Despite the Pandemic
3.6.2. Type 2. Couch Epidemiologists
3.6.3. Type 3. Conspirationists/Pseudo-Science Influencers
3.6.4. Type 4. Recovery-Focused Users
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Subreddits||COVID Posts/Comments||Coronavirus Posts/Comments||Corona Posts/Comments||Quarantine Posts/Comments||Pandemic Posts/Comments||Lockdown Posts/Comments||Total Posts/Comments|
|Main Theme 1. The Lockdown-Associated: Immunity, Psychotropic(s) of Choice and Drug Dosage/Intake Issues.|
|Main Theme 2. Life at the time of COVID-19, drug dealing, drug-related behaviour and post-quarantine plans’ issues.|
|Main Theme 3. Lockdown-related psychopathological issues.|
|Main Theme 4. Peer-to-peer advice at the time of COVID-19.|
|Type 1. Redditors Considering Continuing the Use of Drugs Despite the Pandemic.|
|e.g., Sorry, imma gonna keep doing drugs as usual.|
|e.g., If I’m on lockdown for 2 weeks I’m most certainly not staying sober.; Do acid first, then go sober! I don’t give af about the coronavirus; WH can fuck off (WH = White House).|
|Type 2. Couch Epidemiologists|
|e.g., (…) I realized the other day that the early warning symptoms of coronavirus are basically identical to mild heroin withdrawals so … now I’ve just been kinda uncertain as to whether I actually have coronavirus or if (…) I just feel better when I hit the black cause it’s getting me well lmao yikes.|
|e.g., MDMA weakens your immun system. And I’m not sure how it is with amphetamine. The chance of dying by using mdma and getting Corona virus in 1–2 days after is bigger than 0.2%.|
|Type 3. Conspirationists/Pseudo-Science Influencers|
|e.g., The seed code is CORONA. Enjoy, psychonauts; Don’t worry, the CIA will continue to funnel in all yalls drugs…|
|e.g., Can you ask the DMT entities to help us solve this COVID-19 situation?|
|e.g., Psychedelics are the cure.|
|e.g., A theory for everything.|
|e.g., memento mori corona … drawn under the influence of psychic tv and coil.|
|Type 4. Recovery-Focused Users|
|e.g., Despite lockdown, and other posts on here, you DONT have to relapse. This time can be used for recovery instead……|
|e.g., Guys! Being sober can be really nice, too…|
|e.g., Ok dad, I’ll stop the molly.|
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Arillotta, D.; Guirguis, A.; Corkery, J.M.; Scherbaum, N.; Schifano, F. COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Substance Misuse: A Social Media Listening, Mixed Method Analysis. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 907. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070907
Arillotta D, Guirguis A, Corkery JM, Scherbaum N, Schifano F. COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Substance Misuse: A Social Media Listening, Mixed Method Analysis. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(7):907. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070907Chicago/Turabian Style
Arillotta, Davide, Amira Guirguis, John Martin Corkery, Norbert Scherbaum, and Fabrizio Schifano. 2021. "COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Substance Misuse: A Social Media Listening, Mixed Method Analysis" Brain Sciences 11, no. 7: 907. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070907