COLORADO SPRINGS — Police in Colorado say the drug and fentanyl epidemic is moving to the social media world and many parents don’t know their kids are part of it.
“I am one of the warriors out here fighting this battle,” said Alganon Askew at Sandstone Care in Colorado Springs. And Askew has backup.
Law enforcement agencies are sounding the alarm as illicit pills, laced with fentanyl, flood across state lines.
Law officials say the transactions often start through advertising put on apps such as Instagram or Facebook. They dealers post suggestive emojis to alert potential customers.
“It is very dangerous for teens,” Askew said.
After a connection is made, the seller and buyer move their conversation to more secretive apps, such as SnapChat or TikTok, which delete messages after they’re sent.
After that, payment is made, drugs are exchanged, and the deal is done – all in a matter of minutes.
Experts at Sandstone Care say this uptick in drug use is likely connected to more teens experiencing mental health issues.
“Now we are seeing more adolescents needing more substance abuse treatment and more mental health support because they are learning to rebuild those connections outside of through a screen or through zoom class,” Natana Reason, a program director as Sandstone Care said.
“The individuals we deal with here, they are having cravings and so cravings come by triggers,” Askew explained.
Sandstone Care says one of the top triggers for young adults is simply to fit in with their peers. However, during the pandemic, fitting in became a real challenge – and some teens began to experiment or to self-medicate.
Remember, Reason explained – drug addiction is a daily battle.
“It does take courage and it does take strength to recognize there is an issue and reach out for help.”