More Teens Are Buying Drugs On Social Media—Here’s What You Need To Know
In February 2021, Dr. Laura Berman, relationship expert and TV host, began speaking out and publicly grieving her 16-year-old son’s tragic overdose death. Sammy, Dr. Berman’s deceased son, overdosed in his bedroom after purchasing fentanyl-laced Xanax from a dealer via Snapchat. Unfortunately, Sammy is not the only teenager this has happened to.
In the past, most teens bought their drugs from classmates or simply took them from their parent’s medicine cabinets. Drug dealers and drug users have kept up with the times and the increased dominance of the internet by buying and selling drugs online. In addition, the effects of the pandemic and social distancing guidelines have sparked a major surge in teens buying drugs on popular social media apps.
Drugs are not just sold on the dark web anymore—they are far more easily accessible to the average middle and high-school-aged kid. Between dealers following popular trends on TikTok to sell narcotics, using encrypted messaging apps like Signal to hide from the police, or buying and selling drugs via Snapchat, it is not uncommon to find the neighborhood drug dealer on a teen’s favorite social media platform.
DANGERS OF UNKNOWN SUBSTANCES
Buying drugs online is particularly worrisome because teens do not always know what they are getting. According to Chris Evans, administrator at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), many teens think they are ordering regular pills, like Xanax, but they end up getting a counterfeit substance that is laced with Fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin.
With the recent increase in teens buying drugs online—and many overdosing—it is more important than ever to talk about how to prevent any kind of drug abuse. While this information may seem a little scary, having this knowledge will equip you to intervene and be aware of what teens may be doing on social media.
SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE
If you suspect that your child, or their friends, may be using, buying (or selling) drugs, we’re here to help. FOCUS, student-led prevention of adolescent risk behaviors, is funded by the Alabama Department of Public Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield Caring Foundation. Approximately 80 schools in 38 counties in Alabama have currently registered FOCUS schools.
FOCUS partners with the Addiction Prevention Coalition (APC), who specializes in substance use and misuse. APC is an excellent resource and can answer questions you may have about the use of alcohol and other drugs. Visit www.apcbham.org for help.
A Study done by Survation in 2019 showed that 1 in 4 teens saw drugs advertised for sale on social media.
- 56% on Snapchat
- 55% on Instagram
- 47% on Facebook