02.01.2016
culture

Q&A With TripSit: Your Online Resource for When Trips Go Bad

TripSit.me has answers, even if you're too high to know the questions.

Drug use is complicated, but it "does not necessarily need to be destructive," according to Teknos––one of the creators and administrators  of TripSit, an online resource and community for drug users. 

"When it is, people need to be given access to care programs, not institutionalized," says Teknos. 

The TripSit community began like many Internet hamlets: on Reddit. From there, it's grown into a forum and Internet relay chat (IRC) site where drug users meet and discuss everything from their most recent dose to what kind of stimulants to mix or not to mix. The TripSit community provides song suggestions or curated playlists that one user feels might enhance the trip of another. People sign on to calm one another down. And, at times, encourage the opposite.

TripSitters also save one another's lives, when they can. In 2013, according to published reports, a drug user from Germany live-streamed a lethal prescription-drugs binge to the TripSitter forums. The TripSit community worked to locate the member and send assistance to his home. 

"Our network has grown quite a bit over the years, and a handful of events have required EMS intervention," says Teknos, though he declines to elaborate on the specifics. 

To learn more about how the two worlds of drug culture and online communities collide, I reached out to Teknos and reality, the creators and site administrators of TripSit.me––home to the Internet's chemical-inducing populace.  

The KIND: What is the main objective of TripSit? What inspired you to create the TripSit community?

Teknos/reality: TripSit was created in pursuit of providing a community where people can enjoy becoming part of a tolerant and positive group of friends, while engaging or not engaging in substance use; and to help strangers who need to stop in and ask a question or talk to someone who will not be judgmental of their condition. We also do quite a lot of work in harm reduction resources, for example, our fact-sheet site.

Screenshot via Tripsit.me

The KIND: Is there any country in the world that drives a majority of your traffic?

reality: Since we are an English-language resource, much of our traffic comes from the USA and Europe. However, we have a strong worldwide-presence, with users coming from all over the globe. We notice that we get many hits to our fact-sheet website and Wiki from countries where there is a strong research chemical scene, particularly where there are novel drugs almost undocumented outside of our resources, such as Poland and Russia.

The KIND: When is the community most active? Are there any events IRL that cause spikes in traffic?

reality: We have relatively consistent activity during the week. The later hours on weekends prove particularly busy. School holidays also prove particularly busy, with many teenagers seeking help for cannabis-related experiences. We often notice a distinct spike in people seeking help for research chemicals soon after their release. Curiously, over the last year, there has been a large rise in people seeking help for DXM experiences.

The KIND: Why do you think people seem to be more willing to talk about their drug use with strangers online than the people they're closest with?

Teknos: The reasons for not talking to friends and family about substance abuse are due to stigma against substance use and a negative perception of those who use substances. Frequently, harmful or excessive substance use is a symptom of a larger issue. We believe it's not inherent to the use of drugs at all. Some substance users need help. If they cannot get it from those closest to them, we can do our best to try and set them on the right path. 

Another reason is the legality behind these substances. Not many services assist in the reduction of harm from substance use without potentially causing repercussions on the person looking for help. Without access to non-destructive treatment, people hide their problem, only making the issue worse. Anonymity has been proven to lower the inhibitions of people online. When people have a mask, they can be more honest than with anyone they know personally. 

This also allows us to give objective information based purely on the information given to us. Aside from aiding curious individuals or those in crisis, there is also a strong social side to the network, which builds trust between users and a willingness to share their lives.

Drug use does not necessarily need to be destructive. When it is, people need to be given access to care programs, not institutionalized.

The KIND: As mainstream media reports on dark web drug markets such as the former Silk Road, do you ever face negative stigmas? Has law enforcement showed up—to your knowledge—in the different chat rooms?

Teknos: We have never had any contact with any government law enforcement agency of any country. We align ourselves with other harm reduction organizations such as MAPS, Bluelight, and Erowid. Many harm reduction organizations receive some stigma from those who are already very negative toward drugs, but we've been lucky to see a largely positive attitude toward what we're doing.

The KIND: TripSit relies on a team of volunteer admins. Does the site have any full-time staff? Is this your full-time job?

reality: The site has no full-time staff, though it can really seem like a full-time job sometimes! We all have other responsibilities apart from the site. We also rely on a healthy base of non-staff volunteers to help people who need it.

The KIND: Do you see any correlation between the seemingly impending legalization of marijuana and the stigmas surrounding drug use?

Teknos: Drug use does not necessarily need to be destructive. When it is, people need to be given access to care programs, not institutionalized. As more people realize that marijuana does not impose the danger that it was made out to do, we hope they realize that substance use is going to happen regardless of legal status. The proper course of action is to bring it into the light so that people can get the help they need.

The KIND: What do you think are some of the key differences between drug use in the Internet age, and previously?

reality: The amount, variety and ease of drug use in the modern age is entirely unsurpassed in previous generations. The Internet makes it almost trivial for an interested party to acquire whatever they desire at the click of a few buttons. However, with the same technology, there comes an entirely novel ability for people to access critical information and advice about how to take drugs safely. This new paradigm of drug culture presents many challenges, which we aim to tackle by providing objective and non-judgmental advice and support to anyone who seeks it.

It is increasingly apparent that prohibition is failing, as the mechanisms of control over the supply of drugs become less effective. For this reason, harm reduction initiatives are more important than ever before.

 

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