An insight into the deep web; why it matters for addiction psychiatry?

Laura Orsolini, Duccio Papanti, John Corkery, Fabrizio Schifano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


Objective. Nowadays, the web is rapidly spreading, playing a significant role in the marketing/sale/distribution of ‘quasi’ legal drugs, hence facilitating continuous changes in drug scenarios. The easily renewable and anarchic online drug-market is gradually transforming indeed the drug-market itself, from a ‘street’ to a ‘virtual’ one, with customers being able to shop with a relative anonymity in a 24-hour marketplace. The hidden ‘deep web’ is facilitating this phenomenon. The paper aims at providing an overview to Mental Health’s
and Addiction’s professionals on current knowledge about pro-drug activities on the deep web.
Methods: A non-participant netnographic qualitative study of a list of pro-drug websites (blogs, fora, drug marketplaces) located into the surface web, was here carried out. A systematic Internet search was conducted on Duckduckgo® and Google® whilst including the following keywords: “drugs”/“legal highs”/“Novel Psychoactive Substances”/“NPS” combined with the word “deep web”.
Results: Four themes (e.g. ‘How to access into the deepweb’; ‘Darknet and the online drug trading sites’; ‘Grams-search engine for the deep web’; and, ‘Cryptocurrencies’) and 14 categories were here generated and properly discussed.
Conclusions: The present paper represents a complete/systematical guideline about the deep web, specifically focusing on practical information on online drug marketplaces, useful for Addiction’s professionals.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2573
JournalHuman Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental
Issue number3
Early online date1 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017


  • deep web
  • darknet
  • psychonauts
  • novel psychoactive substances
  • internet
  • web 2.0


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