Updated: Jan 19
Did you know that it is easier to purchase drugs online through Instagram than it is to opt out of an Instagram account? Or that Instagram enables users, who can be as young as 13 years old, to find potentially deadly drugs, like Fentanyl-laced Xanax, in just two clicks?
The article, "Xanax, Ecstasy, and Opioids: Instagram Offers Drug Pipeline to Kids" written by The Tech Transparency Project (TTP), digs deeply into this issue and the results are frightening. According to research done by TTP, Instagram allowed hypothetical teens to easily search for age-restricted and illegal drugs. Incredibly, the platform’s algorithms actually helped the children connect with drug dealers who were selling everything from opioids to party drugs. This fact by itself should be cause for alarm, but the problem is compounded by the fact that many of these drugs are laced with Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that when added to other drugs, significantly increases the risk of overdose and death. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is commonly found in unregulated drugs AND often in fake prescription drugs! Children think they are "merely" buying Xanax online but, in fact, they are actually getting something that is much more likely to kill them.
The recent statistics on fentanyl-related overdoses are alarming. Fentanyl has become one of the leading substances involved in ALL drug overdoses in the United States. While Fentanyl was responsible for just 4 percent of opioid overdose deaths in 2011, in 2018, it was found in 89 percent of drug overdose urine toxology screenings in Massachusetts. And in 2019, Fentanyl was found in 51 percent of the total overdose deaths in the United States (36,000 out of a total of 70,630). The ease of access to Fentanyl and the drug's lethality together create a perfect storm for accidental adolescent drug overdose, and death.
Children are dying. In the heartbreaking 20 minute PSA, "dead on arrival", parents share their stories of loss, their hope being to save other families from ever experiencing the pain they have.
To help us combat the rising number of youth, and adult, drug overdoses, please join us in the following calls to action:
Contact your Federal legislators (find contact information here) to demand legislation that holds social media platforms accountable for the illegal sale of drugs.
Contact your MA State Representative (find contact information here) and request that they support the following bills: House Bill H.2097 - "An Act advancing public health and safety using Fentanyl testing strips", will save lives if passes. House Bill H.2083 - "An Act relative to behavioral health urgent care" (for children), and Senate Bill S.322 - "An Act relative to substance use education in public schools", also must receive substantial backing from constituents. Please urge your representatives to support these bills.
Sign Dr. Laura Berman’s petition to Snap Inc., TikTok and other social media companies that currently don’t allow 3rd party child safety apps, like BARK, to be used on their platforms.
Contact your school districts, pediatricians, Boards of Health, mental health providers and police and ask them to provide education and training on this issue.
Share this blog with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues via email, text or social media.
Consider joining the Becca Schmill Foundation Policy Team. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your support!
Click here to link to the Becca Schmill Foundation website