People in recovery from a substance abuse disorder have plenty of triggers to deal with in every day life. In today’s modern tech era, they can also easily find themselves triggered in cyber space.
Now more than ever, social media sites like Instagram bombard users with content that makes it easy to buy drugs and connect with dealers. This is the ideal situation for a using addict who is looking to score, but it can be a nightmare for people who are trying to stay sober.
According to Hootsuite, there are approximately one billion global Instagram users. If this estimation is correct, that means that approximately 20 percent of the world’s population is actively using this social media platform.
Here are some interesting statistics about Instagram:
- More women use this social media platform than men
- More than 80 percent of all users are located outside of the United States
- Almost 60 percent of Instagrammers are under the age of 30
- About 72 percent of teens use Instagram every single day
- There are about 95 million posts per day
- Users like about 4.2 billion total posts per day
These statistics are astounding. It’s no wonder dealers have targeted Instagram as an international marketplace. It is the ideal place to move dope and make bank.
How Did Instagram Become a Place to Buy and Sell Drugs?
We live in a world that continues to introduce (at a very rapid pace) faster and smarter forms of artificial intelligence to perform complex tasks. Many are concerned that relying on A.I. is risky business and may even be dangerous. We aren’t here to weigh in on this debate. However; it seems that Instagram does provide a great example of how artificial intelligence can work against those who create it.
Instagram uses algorithms to provide relevant content to users. So, for example, if someone likes or follows certain topics or posts, they will be presented with similar content that may be of interest. Unfortunately – in the case illegal drug activity on Instagram – users can be overwhelmed with content that makes synthetic opioids, cocaine, or crystal meth easily accessible.
Liking a dealer’s account, liking a dealer’s post, or using certain hashtags (which we won’t share) prompts Instagram’s algorithms to go to work. Soon, a user’s feed will be filled up with posts about getting high, ads selling illegal drugs, or suggestions to follow certain hashtags that lead to further drug activity.
In recent months, it has been brought to the attention of the bigwigs at Instagram that some of the country’s largest brands (including Target, Chase Bank, and Proctor & Gamble) have appeared right next to posts illegally selling opioids. Needless to say, in the wake of the country’s opioid crisis, this is a very real threat to the lives of Instagram users. Perhaps this is what finally prompted some action by Instagram execs.
What is Instagram Doing About Its Drug Problem?
Drug activity in Instagram is not new. It has been going on for years. Nevertheless, according to an article in the Washington Post, Instagram recently took measures to counteract rampant drug activity happening on the site.
For example, the social media platform has now blocked search results for specific hashtags (#fentanyl, #cocaine, and #heroin, for example). Unfortunately, this effort backfired because it limited addicted people’s ability to seek substance use disorder treatment. Also, dealers are able to quickly get around this by creating new hashtags.
Also, Instagram announced that it is in the early stages of developing new tools and algorithms that could flag drug content and immediately block transactions from taking place.
Additionally, Instagram has launched a pop-up notification that offers to connect people with free and confidential resources if they want to get help for a problem with addiction. This includes detox and treatment referrals.
Instagram (which is owned by Facebook, by the way) continues to work hard to find a lasting and reasonable solution to the problem of drug seeking and sales on its site. In the meantime, users should be aware that the problem exists and report any illegal activity immediately.
Using Instagram to Stay Sober
Sure, this social media site can be used for the wrong reasons – but it can also be used for the right ones. There is an active and thriving community of sober people on Instagram who connect to offer eachother support. Many share their inspiring recovery stories, post sober events, offer words of encouragement, and provide other helpful tips to promote a sober lifestyle.
Hashtags like #soberlife, #sobriety, #sober, #soberliving, #narcoticsanonymous, #alcoholicsanonymous, #12steps, #wedorecover, #recoveringaddict are the nine most popular hashtags on Instagram used by members of the recovery community. After Utah, California is the second-ranking Instagram recovery community in the United States. This is great news for Californians!
If you want to avoid drug content appearing on your Instagram feed, be cautious about your activity and use of hashtags. Stay away from using hashtags that include the names of specific drugs or any reference to drug activity. Be vigilant about whose posts you are liking. Unfollow groups, individuals, and organizations that promote the use of drugs. This might include celebrities, certain bands, or television shows.
Remember, you can use Instagram’s algorithms in your favor. The more frequently you like sober posts, post sober hashtags, and join groups that promote recovery; the more frequently similar content will show up on your page.
If you have a substance use disorder and you are ready to get sober, get help now.