Use of Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States

Barratt, Monica J., Ferris, Jason A. and Winstock, Adam R. (2014) Use of Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. Addiction, 109 5: 774-783. doi:10.1111/add.12470

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Author Barratt, Monica J.
Ferris, Jason A.
Winstock, Adam R.
Title Use of Silk Road, the online drug marketplace, in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States
Journal name Addiction   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0965-2140
Publication date 2014-02-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/add.12470
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 109
Issue 5
Start page 774
End page 783
Total pages 10
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Aims: To investigate the prevalence of awareness of the online illicit drug marketplace Silk Road (SR), consumption of drugs purchased from SR and reasons for use and non-use of SR.

Design and setting: Global Drug Survey: purposive sample collected in late 2012.

Participants: The base sample (n = 9470) reported recent drug purchase and resided in the United Kingdom (n = 4315, median age 24, 76% male), Australia (n = 2761, median age 32, 76% male) or the United States (n = 2394, median age 21, 80% male).

Measurements: Online questionnaire.

Findings: A total of 65% of US, 53% of Australian and 40% of UK respondents had heard of SR; 18% of US, 10% of UK and 7% of Australian respondents had consumed drugs purchased through SR. Across the three countries, 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) was the most commonly purchased drug (53–60%), followed by cannabis (34–51%), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) (29–45%) and the 2C family (16%–27%). The most common reasons for purchasing from SR were wider range (75–89%), better quality (72–77%), greater convenience (67–69%) and the use of vendor rating systems (60–65%). The most common reasons for avoiding SR purchase were adequate drug access (63–68%) and fear of being caught (41–53%). Logistic regressions found that, compared with people from the UK, Australians [odds ratio (OR) = 3.37; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.29, 4.97) and Americans (OR = 1.46; 95% CI = 1.10, 1.94) were more likely to use SR due to lower prices; and to avoid SR purchase due to fear of being caught (Australia: OR = 1.65; 95% CI = 1.39, 1.96; USA: OR = 1.62; 95% CI = 1.37, 1.92).

Conclusions: While reasons for Silk Road use accord with broader online commerce trends (range, quality, convenience, ratings), its appeal to drug purchasers is moderated by country-specific deterrents and market characteristics.
Keyword Cryptomarket
Drug market
New drug trends
Online marketplace
Silk Road
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Article first published online: 12 FEB 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2015 Collection
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 45 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 47 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 23 Mar 2014, 01:49:40 EST by Jason Ferris on behalf of ISSR - Research Groups