Complexity and differentiation of the MDMA retail market: insights from the European Web Survey on Drugs
This paper focuses on exploring the characteristics of MDMA users in the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD), studying intensity of use and patterns of buying behaviours, with specific attention given to comparing the use of MDMA in tablet form (ecstasy) and in the form of powder/crystals.
This publication is published as part of a collection of papers on web surveys: Monitoring drug use in the digital age: studies in web surveys.
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In recent years the European MDMA market has been characterised by the increasing availability of high-strength products, resulting in a number of deaths. Most studies documenting the patterns and trends in use of this stimulant have grouped tablet (‘ecstasy’) and powder/crystal forms together into a single category, which could lead to an underestimation of MDMA use. This study uses data from nine countries covered in the European Web Survey on Drugs (EWSD) to study intensity of use and patterns of buying behaviours among MDMA users, with specific attention given to comparing the use of MDMA in tablet form and in the form of powder/crystals. The results indicate significant price differences across the countries and that the number of tablets and quantity of powder/crystals consumed on a typical occasion was higher for regular users than occasional users. Through this analysis, this paper shows how using web surveys for drug data collection can be an effective way to develop a better understanding of the use of particular forms of drugs. This is especially of high importance in the case of rapidly evolving drug market changes, such as the volatile nature of MDMA purity in Europe
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