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Alert on new recreational drugs on the web; building up a European-wide digital Early Warning System [Psychonaut EWS] [2006348] - Project
General objectives

The strategic objectives of this project include a regular monitoring of the web in respect of novel recreational drugs and prompt implementation of a technical database on novel recreational psychoactive compounds/combinations, with the resulting data being made available to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s (EMCDDA) early warning system for possible dissemination to selected health professionals and health agencies.

Strategic relevance and contribution to the public health programme

Most consumers of recreational drugs access the Internet to obtain/exchange information on novel recreational compounds/combinations. Technical knowledge on recreational compounds that have appeared in the drug market in the last few years is hardly obtained through reference books and scientific journals, and professionals are faced with a gap in knowledge and preventative campaigns are at risk of not being effective. Without the appropriate knowledge of those recreational drugs which are available to potential consumers, both health
professionals and health agencies cannot carry out an accurate assessment of possible drug-induced medical and psychiatric consequences. There is a need for collaboration between different countries to tackle the problem.

Methods and means

Monitoring of the web (i.e. websites, e-chat rooms, newsgroups) in nine languages in respect of novel (synthetic and herbal) drugs of misuse.
Technical evaluation of the novel compounds.
Dissemination of the information and implementation of a web scanning system, which will be liaising with the existing EMCDDA early warning system.

Expected outcomes period

The project will develop a web scanning tool that can complement the sources of information available at the EU level. Information on the products detected through the web scanning will be compiled and characterised following a well-established methodology, to allow unequivocal product identification The Psychonaut Web Scanning will function as an adaptable system with multilingual capacity. Users will be allowed to review the documents in the language of their choice. It will also translate articles from English to the other languages, and vice versa. This will include: a web scanning for novel recreational drugs and drug combinations’ outbreaks; real-time, 24/7 coverage of media and scientific journals; state-of-the-art technology and automated alert function to
notify users; automated search function to quickly identify relevant reports, customised to user needs.

Start date: 01/01/2008
End date: 01/01/2010
Duration: 24 month(s)
Current status: Finalised
Programme title: First Programme of Community action in the field of public health (2003-2008)
EC Contribution: € 424 821,60