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THE MISSING LINK – How do we include qualitative information in monitoring systems? Prof. dr. Dirk J. Korf University of Amsterdam Bonger Institute of.

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Presentation on theme: "THE MISSING LINK – How do we include qualitative information in monitoring systems? Prof. dr. Dirk J. Korf University of Amsterdam Bonger Institute of."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE MISSING LINK – How do we include qualitative information in monitoring systems? Prof. dr. Dirk J. Korf University of Amsterdam Bonger Institute of Criminology Conference ‘Identifying Europe’s needs for effective drug policy’ Lisbon, 6-8 May 2009

2 Quantitative & Qualitative Quantitative -> KNOWLEDGE: WHAT & HOW MANY? –Which drugs –By how many people –In which categories (age, gender,..) Qualitative -> UNDERSTANDING (‘Verstehen’): WHY? –Why these drugs –In this way –By these people –In these contexts

3 Most monitoring relies on quantitative data –Official statistics (treatment, law enforcement) –Self report data from surveys Completeness: All indicators have limitations –Data might predominantly reflect policy drug law offences, seizures, treatment demand –Under-representation of relevant groups heavy users in general population; school drop outs in ESPAD –Qualitative: generalization often questionable Timeliness –General Population Surveys very expensive – no annual data Too late for early signals –Qualitative: could be more timely, particularly with new drugs in specific groups or settings. Qualitative researchers often complain they need more time (thus: more money)

4 General population surveys predominantly measure non-use Dutch population 15-64 years 77.4% never cannabis 95.9% never hard drugs WHY so many people don’t even try drugs?

5 And predominantly ex-use (discontinuation) Dutch population 15-64 years ¾ ever users not last year Indicates user culture of (self) regulation

6 Plausible vs. Strange Trends ESPAD (15-16 years) Cannabis How to explain that LTP in Ireland dropped from 39% to 20%?

7 Trends in drug use WHY do certain substances become popular and other seem to fade away? Qualitative methodologies offer alternative opportunities to observe new drugs or new trends in drug use at an earlier stage, as well as to better understand such developments. –Ethnography observation, field notes, informal talks, in depth interviews –Panel studies (lay) experts interviewed individually –Focus groups users, non-users, experts exchange knowledge, experience, attitudes..

8 Antenna Panel Study Amsterdam

9 Validation thru Triangulation Triangulation -> fuller picture and might help to fill gaps and explain contradictions –Parallel trends in data do not automatically prove trends in use (i.e. arrests and treatment) Noaks & Wincup (2004) Data triangulation: different kinds of data Investigator triangulation: > 1 researcher Method triangulation: different methods Theoretical triangulation: multiple perspectives & hypotheses

10 Triangulation data, method & investigator Laughing gas: –Used in balloons, acute effects (laughing, falling). Observations (number of balloons, suppliers, behaviour) and surveys among clubbers confirm decline. GHB: –Sold in small bottles, acute effects (OD). Observations (number of bottles on the floor after party, users in coma), surveys among clubbers and emergency (First Aid) data confirm trends. Ketamine: –Strong effects on locomotory system. Observations (‘strange dancing’) and surveys among clubbers confirm trend.

11 WHY these trends? Laughing gas: –UP: Funny feeling, happiness fits into party mood. –DOWN: Accidents, decreased availability thru self- regulation of legal suppliers. GHB: –UP: Combines well with XTC (extends high, better asleep after party). ‘Drunk without alcohol’. Cheap and easy to make. –DOWN: Accidents (self-observed and rumours), reputation (‘rape drug’) & HR-prevention (don’t mix with alcohol). –‘REVIVAL’: As UP. Ketamine: –UP: Distinction from mainstream. Fits in trend towards more underground party’s / ‘slower’, more psychedelic music. Underground -> upperground.

12 Antenna Panel Study Amsterdam XTC, Coke & Speed XTC Cocaine Amphetamine

13 Why Popularity of XTC Decreased? Need for distinction: XTC becomes an ‘old’ drug, used by too many mainstream people First experience never comes back –Often translated in terms of “quality has gone down” Growing awareness of negative effects –Tuesday dip –Perceiving others who show dependent behaviour –Reports on overdose –Long term consequences (brain damage) Multi-ethnic youth; electronic music less popular - Urban (latin, hip hop etc.)

14 Why Cocaine Competes with XTC? Time for a new wave (distinction) Problematic cocaine use associated with crack- cocaine, not with powder cocaine Growing interest in small & private parties –Partly due to more police control in clubs & at parties –The ritual of snorting cocaine is more social than swallowing an XTC pill Cocaine high lasts shorter -> better possible to be ‘fresh’ for work after the weekend Price: 50 euro/ 1g.; 12,50 euro ¼ g.

15 Why Ecstasy is Still Going Strong XTC is still perceived as relatively harmless (no junkie drug) Electronic music is still popular among white youth, commercial large scale raves offer big multi media spectacle Newcomers in the party scene label XTC as the perfect party drug Ongoing product innovation and fair price HOWEVER: MCPP ….

16 Why Amphetamine Not Popular in Amsterdam Dance Scene? Too cheap and ‘dirty’. Low availability (not very profitable) Distinction; associated with: –hard core scene, –‘farmers’ (people from rural areas) –‘beginners’, young party goers who cannot afford to buy cocaine. Unpleasant in your nose. Effects last too long (sleeplessness). Why more popular in other regions and countries?


18 Horizontal & vertical trends Vertical: Trend followers become part of developments initiated by trendsetters; drugs spread over other scenes. Horizontal: New developments spread from centre of innovation to other parts of the country

19 Horizontal: Amphetamine Horizontal and some vertical spread. Rural vs. urban. Most popular in Underground & Hardcore scene. Revival of appreciation speed to reduce alcohol effects Users under estimate risks

20 Contextualisation Zinberg: Drug use can only be understood from the interaction between Drug, Set & Setting. Drugs have different meanings for different people in different settings. –XTC at home = introspection –XTC at party = dancing –XTC at ‘soft’ party = dancing and feeling of togetherness –XTC at ‘hard’ party = energy to keep dancing Why true narcotics used in dance scene? –Distinction, GHB as substitute for alcohol, not everyone likes to dance …

21 K.: Party vs. Private Setting “A K-hole is like a near-death experience. If you wish such an experience, you better take ketamine at home. Sometimes a dozen of us are tripping at a party and when new people pass by, you don’t know how to behave. When others see you having fun with ketamine, they are more likely to try it. That’s also because our group is fun into experimenting with drugs and sex.” (Angel, clubber, 65a, 2008).

22 Vertical: Drug use and scene in NL

23 Vertical: Dynamics in drug use & scene

24 Horizontal: ketamine Horizontal and some vertical spread. Regional differences. Most popular in underground scene. Not tolerated in mainstream & urban.

25 GHB, Ketamine & Music Preference (Club Survey, Antenna Amsterdam 2008)


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