|The 21st Century Substance Abuser: Cyberspace Intersecting with the Drug Culture|
|By Art Bowker, Cybercrime Specialist|
On March 1, 2011, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control five chemicals (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol). These five chemicals are used to make what is referred to as “fake pot” products. The resulting smoke-able herbal product brands, with such names as “Spice,” “K2,” “Blaze,” and “Red X Dawn” were sold on the Internet and a variety of locations as legal substitutes for getting a a marijuana-like high. The marketing and sale of these marijuana substitutes online represents just one way drug use is being impacted by the Internet. Community correctional professionals now need to become familiar with the cyberspace’s role in substance abuse behavior to be effective change agents.
The National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) observed in 2002 that drug use facilitation appeared to be the most common drug-related activity on the Internet. NDIC categorized this facilitation as:
Leinwand (2007) also cited a study that found 10 million online messages written by teens in 2006 showed they regularly chat about drinking alcohol, smoking pot, partying and hooking up. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) also concluded in 2010 that “Social networking sites provide information from teens on their personal experiences on how to get high with prescription drugs.” Lyon (2008) also observed that the Internet is also ripe with methods for users to defeat drug tests, some “downright dangerous.”
Actually obtaining illegal drugs online appears a smaller part of the overall cyber-effect on drug use. A U.S. government study noted that only .04% of persons aged 12 or older in 2008-2009 who used pain relievers nonmedically in the past 12 months obtained their drugs online. Nevertheless, a 2010 United Nations report reflected that India has… “emerged as a major source for illegal drugs trade on the Internet with narcotics smuggled via the country’s courier and postal services to the rest of the world.” The report further noted that illegal India firms, disguised as software companies, were allowing transactions of banned pharmaceutical preparations to be made over the Internet.
What does all this mean for the community corrections professional charged with supervising offenders with substance abuse issues? Consider the following suggestions:
Boyer, E.; Shannon, M and Hibbert, P. “The Internet and Psychoactive Substance Use Among Innovative Drug Users” Pediatrics 2005, 115, 302-305
Drug Enforcement Adminstration (DEA) “Chemicals Used in “Spice” and “K2″ Type Products Now Under Federal Control and Regulation”, Press Release
Drug Enforcement Adminstration (DEA) Hidden Dangers in Your Home, (2010)
Leinwand,D. “Teens use Internet to Share Drug Stories”“Teens use Internet to Share Drug Stories”, (2007) USA Today
Lindsay, L. ”Ways Teens Might Cheat on Drug Tests and How to Catch Them”, (2008) US News
National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) Information Bulletin: Drugs, Youth, and the Internet(2002)
Reuters, “Illegal Drug Trade via Internet on the Rise in India” (2010)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings .
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