In mainstream media, there’s not a lot to be found about recreational drugs except horror stories and arguments for prohibition. From time to time we also hear that Steve Jobs liked to drop acid when he was young, that countless Vietnam vets easily kicked heroin habit upon coming home, and, as US-fed-sponsored study found out, that psychedelic mushrooms can bring a lasting and positive personality change in more than half of those who take them.
Where to find good information? There exist internet communities, so-called harm-reduction forums, where one can spend a few hours to discover that the truth is not black and white. Surely junkies exist, and using meth daily is not a life strategy anyone could recommend, but not all drugs were created equal. There are many classes of recreational drugs, each acting on specific chemical pathways in body – uppers on dopamine, hallucinogens on serotonin, downers on GABA, etc.
I thought it would be nice to visualize these drug groups based on what users of harm-reduction forums say, so I analyzed around 1.2 million posts on bluelight.ru and constructed a simple diagram that tells a lot. It was constructed in such a way that drugs that are frequently mentioned together, appear together. Circle radii are proportional with frequency of appearance of the same drugs in the posts. Methodology is explained at the bottom of the post.