Social media is everywhere in our society and it seems like it is impossible to get away from it. We can easily access our social media feeds through smartphones and smartwatches, with information quite literally available at our fingertips.
For every good that social media provides, it does provide some bad. One such aspect is seen in the fact that social media makes information sharing relatively easy; unfortunately this is one facet that has helped drug abuse continue into the 21st century. Many question if social media is allowing drug abuse to be glorified, introducing it to people as something that is acceptable right in their news feed.
The biggest aspect of social media is the simplicity of information sharing that it provides. Posts and shared links are monitored by moderators on the host website, but only if reported, leaving a lot of errors in regulation on social media. Knowledge of new drugs and what they do can be easily spread on social media. Both the NIDA and the DEA report that drug usage is on the rise, especially amongst teens and young adults.
Individuals who are in support of illegal drug use can have a wider influence on others through social media. Social media is also a faster way for buyers and dealers to interact, and is often hard for law enforcement to track on some media platforms or without access to private messaging.
In film and television, drug usage is often used as a plot device or gimmick, often with depictions of casual usage with few consequences. These instances are usually the ones that make headlines, with scenes being upload to video sites like YouTube and being shared.
In a lot of music videos, which are often first released through social media, drug usage is depicted as a normal and acceptable thing.
A lot of social media platforms have been cracking down on depictions of drug abuse on their websites. Some have been shutting down accounts that are pro-drug usage in order to curb their influence as a new generation of users join social media websites at young ages.
There have also been more instances of reporting by users, and an increase in site-run moderators who police posts that violate the website’s community standards.
For every person who promotes drug abuse, there is someone who is posting against it. Many anti-drug campaigns use social media to get their messages out, often with considerable success. With every drug abuse-related incident in pop culture, there are more people using social media to speak out about the dangers.
Social media, too, can be used as a means of finding information for treatment and support during recovery. It can be a helpful too for a recovering addict to stay in touch with their support system at times when conventional means are not possible.
Social media opens a lot of doors for all stages of drug abuse and addiction; it can be used for both good and evil, depending on the person using it. While it does glorify it at times, it also functions as a weapon to help diminish its influence on the younger generation who may be more vulnerable to drug abuse. It largely depends on the people using social media and their own judgement when faced with pro-drug messages.