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Kapitány-Fövény M, Demetrovics Z. 
“Utility of Web search query data in testing theoretical assumptions about mephedrone”. 
Hum Psychopharmacol. 2017 May 28;32(3).
OBJECTIVE: With growing access to the Internet, people who use drugs and traffickers started to obtain information about novel psychoactive substances (NPS) via online platforms. This paper aims to analyze whether a decreasing Web interest in formerly banned substances-cocaine, heroin, and MDMA-and the legislative status of mephedrone predict Web interest about this NPS.

METHODS: Google Trends was used to measure changes of Web interest on cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and mephedrone. Google search results for mephedrone within the same time frame were analyzed and categorized.

RESULTS: Web interest about classic drugs found to be more persistent. Regarding geographical distribution, location of Web searches for heroin and cocaine was less centralized. Illicit status of mephedrone was a negative predictor of its Web search query rates. The connection between mephedrone-related Web search rates and legislative status of this substance was significantly mediated by ecstasy-related Web search queries, the number of documentaries, and forum/blog entries about mephedrone.

CONCLUSIONS: The results might provide support for the hypothesis that mephedrone's popularity was highly correlated with its legal status as well as it functioned as a potential substitute for MDMA. Google Trends was found to be a useful tool for testing theoretical assumptions about NPS. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Words: Google Trends; Web search query; legislation; mephedrone; online articles
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