Reddit is famous for harboring some less-than-legal communities. Given the anonymity the site affords its users, it’s also not surprising to hear that people talk about drugs on the site, but this study shines a light on the level of discussion taking place.
A study from Project Know shines a light on where, when, and how often discussion of illegal drugs is taking place on Reddit. Surprisingly, the subreddit with the most discussion isn’t the marijuana-focused /r/trees — it’s Reddit’s version of Yahoo Answers, AskReddit. Of all the posts on AskReddit, a genuinely impressive 27.8 percent involved some kind of discussion of substance or substance use. The sheer number of posts isn’t the only thing — some of the sub’s big hits ask about people’s experience with marijuana.
The researchers hypothesize that the frequency of posts ebbs and flows with the school year. There’s a peak in June, when finals end, and a dropoff in August and September as students go back to studying. That would line up with Reddit’s college-age demographic quite nicely.
Overall, the survey builds up an interesting picture of Reddit’s relationship with different substances. It shouldn’t be a surprise to any frequent Reddit user: weed is viewed relatively positively, mild alcohol use is promoted, but harder drugs like heroin (or alcohol addiction) are viewed negatively.
It fits well into the narrative of the enlightened Redditor, getting their high from a relatively harmless substance, while challenging the conventional acceptance of alcohol.