#054: Delving into digital drugs with Dr Monica Barratt

By Jordan Michaelides
February 21, 2018

Monica 1

Image credit: Neil Creek 

🎧 Listen via iTunes or Stitcher

Dr Monica Barratt ( @monicabarratt ) is a social scientist at Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, based out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Monica’s research concerns the social and public health implications of internet technologies for people who use illicit drugs, and the impacts of legislative responses to drugs.

She is particularly interested in how we respond to the emergence of novel drug trends (like the Silk Road) and how these trends are enabled by digital technologies. This has allowed Monica to engage hard-to-reach networks behind the Dark Web, in conversations about research and policy.

Drug policy, and the use of psychoactive drugs, has fascinated me since I developed a generalised anxiety disorder in my early 20s. In other episodes we’ve engaged psychologist Dr Stephen Bright, and criminologist Dr James Martin. By including a sociological perspective, we can all better understand the mechanics and implications of using such drugs in society.

This is another meaty episode where we focus on the topic of drug policy, prohibition and the current social commentary around it - especially in the digital space.

In this episode we covered:

  • Silk Road and the media

  • Positive outcomes of the darknet

  • Case of Preston Bridge

  • How Ross Ulbricht was caught & his court case

  • Early career and how she got started

  • The internet’s role in the growth of new drugs

  • How the internet is used today

  • Censorship, human intelligence & human error

  • Drug use and how humans have evolved

  • The future of drug policy

  • Her experience reaching hard-to-reach networks

  • Max Keiser and RT

Enjoy the episode!






Show notes

02:11 - Introduction

05:06 - Her work and career highlights

08:48 - Silk Road and the media

12:08 - Positive outcomes of the darknet

17:46 - Case of Preston Bridge

19:37 - How Ross Ulbricht was caught

21:46 - Early career and how she got started

29:37 - The internet’s role in the growth of new drugs

31:35 - How the internet is used today

37:40 - Censorship, human intelligence & human error

42:31 - 2015 Drug policy alliance conference

46:10 - Drug use and how humans have evolved

50:17 - The Ross Ulbricht court case

55:05 - The future of drug policy

01:04:44 - Changes in perception

01:16:34 - Her experience reaching hard-to-reach networks

01:29:47 - Research participants

01:32:31 - Morning & evening rituals

01:34:23 - Favourite books and docos

01:37:27 - Max Keiser and RT