Tag Archives: substance use

Is Reddit the new Erowid?

Erowid.org is described as “a member-supported organization providing access to reliable, non-judgmental information about psychoactive plants, chemicals, and related issues.” The site was launched in 1995 and by 2005 had 450,000 page hits and 45,000 visitors per day. Website use statistics haven’t been reported since then, though its likely that there has been some attrition due to the growing diversity of online resources for drug information.  Out of curiosity, I ran a quick Google Trends search to compare where Internet users are searching for information about two well-known synthetic drugs, LSD (acid) and MDMA (ecstasy).  The following chart depicts searches for these two keywords that were accompanied by either “erowid” or “reddit”, as well as a search for “erowid reddit”.

Monthly search data were obtained from January 2004 through the present day and trendlines were smoothed using a logarithmic ^4 transformation. What we see is that sometime in 2015, searches for information about these drugs related to Reddit appeared to overtake searches related to Erowid.  Implications of this trend go beyond simple navel-gazing about Internet search preferences.  For example, if individuals are now more likely to get information about psychoactive drugs from Reddit, it begs questions about the quality of information that they are getting (particularly information about risks and interactions which is prominent and well-curated on the Erowid site).