Drug Dealing on Social Media: Snapchat Cracks Down

Drug Dealing on Social Media: Snapchat Cracks Down

What to Know About Drug Dealing on Social Media

Social media and mobile phones have transformed our relationships and ways of communicating. We can share moments of our lives and get glimpses into what our friends, family, and extended family are doing or thinking about. Unfortunately, these platforms have also become pathways for illegal activity, with drug dealing on social media becoming increasingly prevalent.

Let’s explore how social platforms lower the barriers to a person acquiring drugs and worsening their substance use disorder.

How Drug Dealing on Social Media Occurs

Platforms like Facebook have explicit rules regarding what content they allow users to share. However, this doesn’t deter users from finding ways to engage in illegal activities, including exchanging drugs for money.1 Despite efforts to prevent drug dealing on social media, fake online pharmacies keep popping up that sell illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine and controlled substances without a prescription like Viagra or insulin.2

Unfortunately, only 5 percent of online pharmacy websites comply with government laws and standards.3 One reason for this low figure is that drug dealers often pretend to be reputable pharmacies on social media. Although platforms like Facebook use specific algorithms to thwart drug dealing, it is not enough to stop the spread of these illicit activities.

How Social Media Connects Dealers with Users

Dealers find secretive ways to connect with users seeking illegal drugs. Apps like Snapchat are popular with younger generations and can encourage this type of “down-low” behavior. Also, drug dealers know how to manipulate privacy settings to cover their tracks. Often, buyers and sellers search out commonly used hashtags and emojis to make connections.

Also, dealers try to appear as legitimate businesses on social media sites and analyze customer behavior to connect with them. Worryingly, many of the sellers trick young people into trying different substances.

How Memes and Pictures Glamorize Drug Us

Various social media platforms are filled with pictures and videos of celebrities using drugs, where it is portrayed as fun and cool. The National Center on Addiction Substance Abuse found that teens active on social media platforms are more likely to purchase cigarettes, drink, and use cannabis.4

As teens watch these famous people at parties using drugs or alcohol, they experience peer pressure to try it for themselves. Teens want to keep up with the trends and not miss out on the latest thing to do. There’s been a wave of recent trends on TikTok where users post dares involving drug use. For example, the “Benadryl Challenge” has encouraged watchers to consume enough Benadryl that they hallucinate.5 These trends could be the beginning of a cycle of drug, alcohol, or medication abuse that affects a teen for years or decades. 

Snapchat Takes Steps to Stop Drug Dealers

To impede the growing problem of drug dealing on its platform, Snapchat has begun taking steps to curb these activities. When users search for drug terms, Snapchat will instead direct them to an educational feature about the risks and realities of drugs like fentanyl. This Heads Up feature will also share information about mental health and coping mechanisms. 

Besides this helpful addition, management has been taking proactive measures to investigate drug dealers who use the app and work with police to hold these individuals accountable for their harm.

Seeking Help from Clear Life Recovery

At Clear Life Recovery, we know there are many routes and reasons a person may fall into a substance use disorder. Sadly, social media platforms are now just another way that this can occur. The increase in drug dealing on Snapchat is worrisome because its users are predominantly younger. This means they are more vulnerable to peer pressure and trends and less able to make good long-term decisions.

Therefore, our team at Clear Life Recovery has developed a youth-adult rehab program meant for youth 18 years or older. We tailor this program to the specific environmental and developmental aspects of a young adult struggling with substance issues. Please get in touch with us today for more information on our program for yourself or a loved one.


[1] https://drrajivdesaimd.com/2019/07/30/drug-addiction/
[2] https://www.counteringcrime.org/online-crimes/drug-trafficking-is-amplified-on-facebook-fueling-a-drug-crisis
[3] https://www.fda.gov/drugs/besaferx-your-source-online-pharmacy-information/besaferx-frequently-asked-questions-faqs
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432862/
[5] https://www.healthline.com/health-news/benadryl-challenge-on-tiktok-is-dangerous-experts-say