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Social media today plays a huge role in the ongoing drug abuse crisis in America. Although it is marketed as a safe, fun, online place to interact with friends and family (and it definitely can be), some people also abuse it for the purpose of sharing drug-related propaganda or for selling illegal substances.

Social Media in Today’s World

Social media platforms have an increasingly large responsibility to maintain online safety due to an ever-growing population of users. According to Tech Crunch, some of the world’s most popular social media platforms boast the following total monthly users.1

  • Facebook – 2 billion monthly users
  • YouTube – 1.5 billion monthly users
  • Instagram – 700 million monthly users
  • Twitter – 328 million monthly users
  • WhatsApp – 1.2 billion monthly users
  • Snapchat – approximately 255 million monthly users
  • Facebook Messenger – 1.2 billion monthly users
  • WeChat – 889 million monthly users

Seven in ten Americans (or 69 percent of the population) use social media.2 Engagement on these platforms is even higher among teens and young adults, with only two percent of 13 to 33-year-olds not actively using any social media platform at all. That means 98 percent of teens and young adults are engaged with at least one social media platform today.3

The Link Between Social Media and Drug Abuse

It’s very clear that the idea of sharing our personal lives via social media is something that many Americans value and use on a daily basis. Although most (if not all) social media channels maintain some type of anti-drug policy, some of these websites do not enforce them as strictly as others, leaving plenty of opportunity for drug-related activities and sales.

Illegal drugs, and even prescription drugs like Triazolam, Valium, and Oxymorphone (among others), are sold on a number of different social media platforms, including4:

  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Tinder

Drug dealers typically don’t sell substances on these social media sites with blatant posts proclaiming “Drugs for Sale!” Instead, they use imagery and hashtags to engage interested buyers before migrating the conversation to an anonymous messaging app like Kik or Whisper to close the deal.5

For example, drug dealers on Instagram may use hashtags like #kush4sale paired with images of scantily-clad women smoking marijuana to attract buyers. These potential buyers may then direct message the dealer on Instagram to get in contact with them. These conversations are often then carried to other platforms to actually purchase the drugs or arrange a meeting.

Eighty-two percent of drug dealers on Instagram claim to sell marijuana, but codeine cocktails are also available from 58 percent of dealers and 20 percent are selling MDMA.6

In addition to the illegal sales being made on these platforms, users frequently tout their own drug and alcohol abuse on their profiles with pictures and status updates, which may encourage some of their younger friends and/or peers to do the same in an effort to live up to some sort of social expectation.

Combating Drug Abuse with Long-Term Rehab

Drug and alcohol abuse continues to be a prevalent problem among teens, young adults, and older adults, and there’s no doubt that social media plays a part in this. In a time when drugs and alcohol are easily accessible via social media and the internet, it’s extremely important to address the drug abuse and addiction of loved ones immediately, before it gets out of hand.

If you believe that a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program may be the best way to address the physical, psychological and behavioral aspects of their addiction. Long-term drug rehab lasting 90 days or longer has been shown to provide better outcomes for individuals who are suffering from addiction.7

Recovery from substance abuse is a lifelong process that may require multiple episodes of treatment, such as drug detox, inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, sober living, and aftercare. If your loved one is addicted, it’s very important that he or she does not leave treatment prematurely, as this could hinder his or her long-term recovery and lead to relapse.

There are plenty of things that may keep a person from enrolling in a rehab program, such as fear of failure, denial, or a concern for what others may think, but a carefully planned intervention may be just what your loved one needs to start their recovery journey. Plus, a high-quality rehab center like Nova Recovery Center will provide you or your addicted loved one with a personalized continuum of care plan to keep you fully engaged in each step of your recovery so you have the best chance at achieving a genuine and lasting personal transformation that leads to a full life of sobriety.

If you or a loved one regularly purchase drugs on social media or has been sucked into a lifestyle of consistent drug and alcohol abuse in an effort to maintain a social standing, you should know that there is a way out.

Call Nova Recovery Center today to speak with an admissions specialist about our gender-specific drug and alcohol rehab programs for men and women. We are here to help whenever you’re ready.



  1. https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/27/facebook-2-billion-users/
  2. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
  3. https://www.ypulse.com/post/view/5-stats-on-millennials-teens-social-media1
  4. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/snapchat-instagram-cocaine-mdma-how-10812890
  5. http://www.complex.com/life/2016/06/digital-underground-weed-market
  6. http://observer.com/2014/05/heres-every-statistic-you-could-want-on-instagram-drug-dealers/
  7. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
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