Police say the vast majority of opioids such as Percocet and Xanax purchased through social media sites are laced with the dangerous additive fentanyl. Of the 108,000 drug-related fatalities reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May 2022, many of those deaths were due to fentanyl-laced pills being sold to teenagers and young adults on social media.
Today’s drug dealers are leveraging modern technology such as social media and messaging apps to lure their customers. Privacy features on these apps allow messages to be encrypted or disappear, making it harder for law enforcement to find the culprits.
“About 90 percent of the pills that you’re buying from a dealer on social media now are fentanyl,” the district attorney for Placer County, California Morgan Gire said to the New York Times.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid fifty to one hundred times more potent than morphine. Originally, fentanyl was a pharmaceutically manufactured drug used to manage pain post-surgery and in cancer patients. It is now more commonly used as an additive to increase the potency of illicit drugs or in place of the highly potent drugs themselves. Fentanyl can also be easily disguised as prescription opioids or be used as a cheap but deadly additive to these drugs.
“Fentanyl is highly addictive as it creates an extreme sense of euphoria among its users, resulting in the individual becoming dependent on the substance to induce pleasure,” Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC told WebMD. The addictive nature of this synthetic opioid causes users to develop substance abuse disorders sometimes after their first use.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, opioid-related fatalities have increased due to decreased access to mental health and group support, difficulty managing pandemic-related stress, and limited access to physicians and prescription drugs. In December 2020, the American Medical Association reported that over forty states were experiencing an increase in opioid-related deaths, along with an increased concern for those with substance abuse disorder.
As individuals were forced to ‘shelter in place,’ many turned to social media to access the drugs they felt they needed. Drug dealers peddling laced pills, produced largely in Mexico using chemicals from India and China, were ready to fill the heightened demand. In 2021, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration seized 20.4 million counterfeit pills. According to scientists, about one in ten pills on the market today contain deadly doses of fentanyl.
The Drug Enforcement Administration logged seventy-six cases involving drug dealers using code words and emojis on social media apps and e-commerce sites during a two-month investigation. Drug sellers are using Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok, Discord, Telegram, and more to find their customers.
Recent protests by grieving parents and a crackdown by law enforcement have caused social media and messaging apps to take notice. Many have declared that they will be increasing moderation on their apps, shutting down drug dealers’ accounts, and redirecting those seeking drugs on their platforms to substance abuse support agencies. The technology companies Snap, Meta, and Google have begun to work with the Ad Council on a campaign highlighting the dangers of fentanyl.
To subvert these new social media protocols, drug sellers have taken to using codes or hashtags connected to a celebrity name. They will also troll comments and begin conversations with individuals they believe are seeking pain relief. Once a drug dealer begins to message an individual privately on social media, the sale is just about complete.
Call A Dangerous Drug Attorney
Over two million individuals are affected by the misuse of opioids each year. In many cases, the ingestion of a laced pill will result in death. Others will find themselves amid an opioid use disorder if their medication was wrongly prescribed, the appropriate dose was not followed, or they consumed an illicit version of the drug.
If you or a loved one has been seriously harmed or died from a drug overdose, you should immediately call a dangerous drug attorney. The lawyers of Panter, Panter, and Sampedro have the experience and resources to help you recover what you deserve. For a free case review call (305) 662-6178.