If you’re one of those parents who constantly find their children gazing into their computers and smartphones and worry about the technology’s influence on them, relax a bit. It can actually be good for them. Aside from making their (and our) lives more convenient and helping teens connect with their peers, technology provides useful information to inquiring minds. It can broaden their outlooks, and expand cultural views and diversity. Different types of media can help teenagers develop their reading, writing and critical-thinking skills, not to mention creativity.
At the same time, the Internet has some hidden dangers. According to the National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents, American teenagers aged 12-17 who have a habit of spending time on social networking sites daily, are twice more likely (in comparison with teens that aren’t hooked on social nets) to smoke marijuana, 3 times more likely to drink alcohol, and 5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes.
While parents, teachers, and the federal government are trying to teach a younger generation to say no to drugs, more than $25 billion are spent each year on the advertising of cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs. Moreover, TV shows and movies demonstrate considerable amounts of substance use. Consequently, impressionable young minds develop misconceptions about alcohol and drug use and their effects. What makes the situation even worse is the fact that any drug can be easily found and bought online.
How do teenagers get drugs through the Internet?
1. Social Networks
It turns out that Facebook is not just a place to connect with friends. The platform has also become a fruitful marketplace for drug sellers. The trade mainly occurs through Facebook’s secret groups were dealers push ecstasy, LSD, Xanax, and cocaine.
Some sellers do their “business” even more blatantly. Make a quick search of “oxycodone” on Facebook. You’ll see the pics of pills and profiles of fake pharmacies that offer sleeping pills, opioid painkillers, sedatives, and other prescription drugs. As you’ve already understood, to buy these, your child doesn’t need any prescription. Some media resources report that such illegal trade takes place on Instagram and Snapchat.
2. The Dark Web
The dark web (or darknet, deep net) is part of the internet that can be accessed only through special software. Criminals use it for various illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Since this part of the net is not regulated, black market sites that offer illegal substances operate freely.
Fortunately, one of the largest black markets called Silk Road was shut down in 2013 by the FBI. Before the shutdown, Silk Road had facilitated more than a million transactions that totaled over $1.2 billion in its short lifetime (just 2 years).
However, there are still many shady sites in the darknet. It goes without saying that teenagers are very tech-savvy. It wouldn’t be a problem for them to access the dark web and purchase something there.
3. Illegitimate Online Pharmacies
Psych Central reports that around 10% of prescription abusers obtain their drugs from online pharmacies. In addition to the deep net, the internet is full of illicit pharmacy sites.
Many of these stores are based abroad, so they are not subject to U.S. governance. People of any age can go online, place an order, and get it delivered in discreet packaging. Again, there’s no need to obtain a prescription to these purchases.
The additional danger of buying drugs off the net is that buyers don't truly know what they are really getting when they receive an order. The World Health Organization estimates that about 50% of illicit “no-prescription” online pharmacies are selling counterfeit medications. At best, customers might get just sugar pills; at worst, the substances might be mixed with additional ingredients to make them more potent and deadly.
How to prevent your child from buying drugs over the net?
Given that youth can easily get any type of drug on the net, parents should watch their kids closer. If you have any doubts, check out your child’s browser history and Facebook, Instagram or another social networking site they use. If you find some unfamiliar hashtags, look for them here. It may be street terms for various drugs.
Most importantly, you should keep a direct and candid dialogue with your children. You should educate them on the dangers and risks involved with substance use and addiction. Make them feel comfortable telling you about what’s going on at school, including alcohol and drug use among their peers, if it happens. Understanding the environment your children live in and relationships they have with peers can help you understand how to protect them from detrimental influences.
What parents can do about teen drug use?
The younger the individual who experiments with drugs is, the higher the risk of serious health consequences. For teenagers, it’s vital to get help early on. When it comes to substance abuse, rehabilitation is the best solution. Teen rehab centers traditionally offer two types of treatment programs:
Inpatient (residential) program
The choice of rehab depends on the type of addiction, mental or other health condition that your child may suffer from, the duration of usage, and the level of the teen’s maturity.
For someone with a relatively mild addiction, outpatient teen drug rehab is a suitable option. It’ll allow your kid to continue studying at school and leading a normal family life while undergoing treatment at the center.
If your offspring was unlucky enough to develop a severe addiction that has already caused serious problems at home or school, or already had one or more unsuccessful attempts to quit drugs, inpatient teenage drug rehabilitation would suit more.
No matter what type of rehabilitation you choose, it’ll provide a lasting and life-changing experience. Teen drug programs are designed to treat addiction and co-occurring health problems caused by abuse. And what is more, they teach teenagers coping techniques to prevent relapse and enable them to sober lifestyles after treatment.