Though prescription drugs have endured a recent popularity with users of younger and younger ages, the problem with abuse of these drugs spans from ages as young as 10 to elderly octogenarians. What makes the fight against prescription drug abuse so much different than other illicit drugs, is the fact that these drugs are not manufactured in a war-torn country by heavily armed drug-lords, these drugs are manufactured in the United States, regulated by the FDA, and can be found in any city around the country.
Prescription drugs that are widely abused (i.e Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Xanax, Percocet, etc.) are in any Walgreens, CVS, or other brands of pharmacies, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing how close these drugs are to the public at any given time. RX drugs are also just beneath the public’s noses via the internet as well.
Law enforcement, DEA, and other institutions are beginning to see an alarming number of sales and purchases through social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as advertisements for the drugs on sites like Craigslist and other public forums and communities.
Recently, a group of students attending NYU in New York were arrested for running an illegal drug trade of pills on Craigslist. The advertisement that led authorities to the students read: “Friendly NYU Student – Pain and Anxiety Relief — **Perc, Roxy** J.” The ad was referring to the prescription drugs Percocet and Roxycodone. Surprisingly, this one ad is not unique, ads just like this can be found in any of the Craigslist city or state pages. In-short, there is a veritable black market burgeoning on the web, a location that is readily available to anyone with a phone or internet connection.
Drug dealers peddling their goods on public sites like craigslist often sell to a larger market, often to people they have never met before, but the drug trade on sites like Facebook have a much deeper and interpersonal network reach. Facebook is a private site and has its own encoded private messaging system. Popular amongst teens especially, smaller networks can be made by Facebook users. Using codes, double meanings, and sometimes even pictures of the drugs to act as an ad, or a call to buy. Through private messages, buyer and seller negotiate their prices and work out a location to make the trade.
The availability of these drugs is very real. Staking-out the drug deals set up over some of these online outlets, law enforcement officials watched these exchanges take place in public parks, street corners, even in libraries and coffee shops. They note that unlike certain drugs like crack-cocaine, meth, or heroin, these drug deals didn’t occur in a dark alley or a run-down meth lab, they took place in Starbucks and the public library. This shows just how rampant the accessibility of prescription drugs is. With these drugs not having to be smuggled across any borders, no cartel murders occurring over the manufacturing and no clear way to separate legitimate users from abusers, Prescription drugs will likely continue to remain as attainable in the future as well.