GDS2019: How much do you trust the person you get drugs from?

Professor Adam R Winstock and Michala Kowalski

Even with the rise of the darknet and postal services dropping drugs though your letterbox, most people still get their drugs directly from a person. This person is somebody who they have to trust enough to engage with in an illegal transaction to obtain a drug of uncertain composition in exchange for money, sometimes, quite a bit of money. It’s quite a thing if you think about it. No receipt, no refunds, no trading standards, no quality control, no complaints department, no options of writing to a consumer watchdog program. And, you run the risk of meeting violence, getting arrested, losing your money, or being sold something with no psychoactive effect or worsen, something potentially more dangerous than you bargained for. Damn you better trust that person!

As part of GDS’s ongoing exploration of drug use behaviours, we thought we’d take drugs back to where, for most people, their session starts; getting hold of drugs. In the past we have looked at sources, prices, deal sizes, and value for money but we’ve always skimmed over the fundamental issue of trust and the details of the individual who supplies your drugs.

What prompted the question was a conversation the GDS had with the producer of a Vice documentary for Channel 5 on cocaine. She asked if people trusted women dealers more than men? They described the stories they’d be told and how they thought trust and the gender of the seller and the buyer were huge issues. We realised there was a great story here. We said GDS would go off and fill in the blanks.

This year we are asking, just how well you know the person you most commonly get drugs from? How long have they been a source? Would you describe them as a friend or a dealer?  A family member? Do they deliver, or do you pick up? Is scoring just a brief transaction or do you hang out and chat, have a beer, have a smoke or a toot? Have you ever bought drugs off a woman?  How much do you trust them, and would you feel safe complaining without the fear of violence or threat?

So, if you’ve bought drugs face to face in the last year we’d love to know about your experience. We’ll put everything together and in May we’ll share what we’ve learned and answer the question – how much do you trust the people you get your drugs from?

Take part in the world’s largest drug survey now at

GDS 2019: How much do you trust the person you get drugs from?

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