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Social media platforms are increasingly being used as a market place for illicit drugs, according to the first definitive study of the practice.
The Volteface study found that almost half of under-18s questioned were unconcerned by the appearance of illegal drug adverts on their social media sites.
Lizzie McCulloch from Volteface said the relatively recent phenomenon of drug dealers selling their product through social media had almost become normalised.
"The fact that we've only recently heard about it and now one in four young people are reporting seeing drugs advertised for sale, that's absolutely staggering and actually, we suspect the number is far higher because these ads are popping up much more frequently," she said.
"It's hard to find youngsters who are not seeing these adverts and what we found surprising is how unconcerned young people are by them. For them, it's a normal part of day to day life."
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“The war on drugs”: what a bombastic, vainglorious phrase that is.
‘Look at me’ says the politician or pundit who uses it approvingly, ‘look how tough I am’ .
But for the politician or pundit who uses it disapprovingly, there are equal and opposite pretences: ‘look at me – see how reasonable I am, how realistic!’
But the war on drugs isn’t a war at all. It is an ongoing and complex process of law enforcement. It has different components which are handled in different ways by different jurisdictions and with differing degrees of effort, intelligence and success. Generalisations are impossible – except one: unlike war, law enforcement is never ‘won’.
Unless rendered obsolete by broader economic, social or technological change, crimes are rarely, if ever, eliminated. Theft, fraud, counterfeiting, people trafficking, knife crime, smuggling, tax evasion: there’s no end to any of those – and yet the ‘war’ against them all continues because the aim is not victory, but containment.
The complaint that government action against an undesirable activity ‘will only drive it underground’ overlooks the fact that this is better than the alternative – i.e. having it out in the open. There are certain things that law-abiding people are entitled not to have normalised; not to have their children see; not have to struggle against alone without the law on their side. And that’s especially important for the poorest and most marginalised communities.
None of that means we should abandon those who slip into the clutches of drug dependency – and want help…a compassionate, rehabilitative approach to drug dependency and legalising drugs are two different things – and the former does not require the latter. Indeed, the criminal justice system can play an active and constructive role. The fear of getting caught, the shock of conviction, the mandating of treatment and the restriction of supply can all help in the process of getting people off drugs and keeping them off.
Here’s another two things that can go together: the availability of a legal, regulated and abundant supply of drugs and a thriving criminal trade in the same or similar substances. In theory, legalisation should mean no more illegal supply – after all, why go to some guy down an alleyway when you could go to a licensed outlet with unadulterated products sold in standard units?
In practice, it’s more complicated than that – as America’s opioid epidemic proves beyond doubt. Far from pushing out the pushers, the over-prescription of entirely legal opioid-based medications has created new opportunities for them. By expanding the size and the demographic diversity of the opioid dependent population, the legal trade has expanded the market for illegal opioids including heroin. If your prescription has run out, or you need something cheaper (or stronger or perhaps merely different) then the dealers will sort you out. Of course, the product may or may not be cut with super-strength synthetic opioids like fentanyl – which is key factor in the epidemic’s horrific and worsening death toll.
Remember, all of this has happened in the context of a regulated and abundant supply of unadulterated opioids, and yet everything that isn’t supposed to happen has happened. The criminal trade hasn’t just survived, it has extended its reach – and innovated in all sort of dangerous new ways.
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I am Lyla P,
Optimistic, courageous, influential, and understanding
Admirer of those who communicate effectively and express their views calmly
Who fears for one who doesn’t assess their circumstances properly and responds in a way that causes dangerous consequences
Who needs positive peer pressure, so I can clearly evaluate the right decisions to make that will maintain a stellar reputation
Who tries to avoid situations when my “friends” pressure me to make immature decisions and harm my body
Who wants to be a confident upstander for my friends when they’re in unsafe situations
Who hates those who anonymously bully innocent people through the internet and don’t get caught
Who knows that there are great humans in the world that will stand up for those who get bullied in the shadows everyday
Who hears the juvenile behavior from behind the middle school walls that are promoting underage drinking and other unhealthy habits
Who sees strong individuals fighting for change and helping those people rehabilitate
Who worries for vulnerable people who are preyed upon by negative pressure, and end up becoming addicted to tobacco, which harms themselves and others around them
Who wishes that one day the government will make a law to outlaw smoking
Who feels sorrow for all the innocent lives lost to D.U.Is each year
Who would like to see more preventative and proactive programs that will help recuperate from alcohol overdose for all people
Who pretends the opioid crisis is just magically going to end one day
Who will aid and give comfort to people struggling with addiction and help them regain careers and friends in society
Who hopes that my peers and I will continue to make the right decisions which will lead to more open doors and opportunities
Who finds happiness in achieving my goals and striving to accomplish more such as staying gritty on the soccer field and never giving up
Who cares for citizens and animals who don’t have a voice in this wide world of ours
Who strives to be an advocate for the voiceless, the environment, and even myself and my own views
Who enjoys confidently expressing my opinions to my fellow classmates and peers to try and inspire them to be the best they can be
Who gives advice to those fighting unseen battles on how to recover and find joy in life again
Who dreams of a world where there is peace, good fortune, health, and kindness
Who loves when humankind treats each other as equals and not just how they look on a spread sheet
Who pledges to be true to myself, my family, and the great community that we share and live in
Who will do my best to succeed in my adventure next year in middle school
That’s what DARE taught me
Lyla P (6th Grade)
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The following studies are just two of many that continue to affirm one of the fundamentals of socialisation and behaviour – that is; your perception of reality is constructed socially, and that’s done through recency, frequency, proximity and intensity. What and who you are immersed in and with, will INFLUENCE the ‘lens’ through which you see.
What makes things worse still, is that if there is an absence of sound positive values that are not ‘anchored’ to a sustainable and healthy, values informing worldview. These deficits will pretty much ensure that this ‘INFLUENCE’ will push the ‘wheelbarrow’ (that is YOU) in a direction that will be way less than helpful! When substances are thrown into that mix, then you have even less control over what is ‘pushing’ your life and where!
Genes and teens: How is youth cannabis use influenced by genetic risk and peer use?
Having more peers that were perceived to use cannabis was associated with higher levels of cannabis over time, and this factor was nearly 4-times more important in understanding patterns of cannabis use than genetic risk. Further, perceived peer cannabis use predicted cannabis involvement at all levels of genetic risk.
Reducing affiliation with substance using peers is a powerful target for both prevention and treatment, as is correcting and re-structuring misperceptions surrounding normative behavior that might implicitly and/or explicitly impact health behavior.
Network Support II: Randomized Controlled Trial of Network Support Treatment and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder
Background: The social network of those treated for alcohol use disorder can play a significant role in subsequent drinking behavior, both for better and worse. Network Support treatment was devised to teach ways to reconstruct social networks so that they are more supportive of abstinence and less supportive of drinking. For many patients this may involve engagement with AA, but other strategies are also used.
Conclusion: It was concluded that helping patients enhance their abstinent social network can be effective, and may provide a useful alternative or adjunctive approach to treatment.