The social media sites that young folks so adore also have turned into virtual illicit drug bazaars, helping to explain the exploding problems with the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl and why opioids and overdoses of them have become a leading killer of Americans ages 18 to 45.
During the coronavirus pandemic, especially, and continuing onward, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media apps, including those that allow users to swap encrypted or disappearing messages, have helped to fuel a burgeoning market in Percocet, Xanax, and other prescription pills, the New York Times has reported. Authorities have warned that those drugs by themselves would be hugely problematic but criminal dealers also have taken to tainting their wares with fentanyl — an easily manufactured opioid that requires only minute doses to provide a big kick, fast addiction, and too easy death. As the newspaper reported:
“Overdoses are now the leading cause of preventable death among people ages 18 to 45, ahead of suicide, traffic accidents, and gun violence, according to federal data. Although experimental drug use by teenagers in the United States has been dropping since 2010, their deaths from fentanyl have skyrocketed, to 884 in 2021, from 253 in 2019, according to a recent study in the journal JAMA. Rates of illicit prescription pill use are now highest among people ages 18 to 25, according to federal data.