The 2019 Netflix series “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” depicts a fictional account of how a German high-schooler easily began selling drugs online with the help of a tech-savvy friend. This show may be fictional, but many people may wonder how easy it really is to sell drugs online.
The show depicts some of the consequences that can occur with becoming a drug trafficker, as well as how it can have a major negative impact on a person’s life. For anyone wondering how to sell drugs online, know that it is by no means easy to do. It is likely to come with serious legal, professional and financial consequences.
Although selling drugs online may seem like an easy way to make money, the decision to do so can cause a severe downward spiral. In addition, selling drugs online or in-person contributes to the illegal drug trade and can ruin other people’s lives.
Is It Really Easy to Buy Drugs Online?
A quick web search for “online drugs” or “online medications” will display thousands of results. Many of the sites selling online medications are selling them from overseas locations and are not properly licensed to sell drugs in the U.S. Prescription medications must be accompanied by a valid prescription from a licensed health care provider whose license allows them to prescribe drugs. Many of the sites that sell medications online do not require a prescription, which is a good sign that they may not have your best interest in mind.
Sometimes illicit drugs are also purchased online. Various electronic tools and methods are used to hide identities and obscure sources of payment. Cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, is an anonymous currency that some people may use to buy drugs online. This currency is usually not associated with a name or a personal address, making it easier to avoid the law.
Where Are Teens buying Drugs?
Teenagers may be buying drugs from many places online, including:
- The Dark Web: Accessing the dark web requires specific computer tools. Once people have access, however, they may be able to find drug suppliers on various dark web sites.
- Online Pharmacies: Many online pharmacies operate in a legal gray area and are not actually licensed to dispense drugs in the U.S. There is no way of knowing that the drug purchased is real and hasn’t been adulterated with other substances or stored improperly.
- Craigslist: Listings on Craigslist and other similar sites may advertise drugs for sale. These are usually coded in some way so the ads don’t get flagged for violations of the community posting policy. These codes may also hide the identities of buyers and sellers.
- Social Media: Many teens are on social media, and these platforms may be utilized for drug commerce. Some examples include Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Reddit and online drug-buying forums. Most of these platforms do have some oversight, but drug buyers and sellers can get around the rules by using coded language and fake accounts.
What Drugs Are Teens Buying Online?
Common drugs that are bought and sold online include many controlled substances, since those are often highly sought after due to their mind-altering effects. Some examples of drugs that teenagers may be looking to sell or purchase online include:
- Xanax and other benzodiazepines: These are sedating, relaxing drugs that are used to relieve anxiety or help with sleep.
- Oxycontin and other opioids: These are pain-killing drugs, but they are associated with effects of euphoria on the brain. This makes them addictive and prone to producing physical dependence with long-term use.
- Heroin: Heroin is an illicit opioid that is often less expensive and more potent than prescription opioids.
- Cocaine: Cocaine is a stimulant drug that produces a dopamine rush in the brain, causing feelings of euphoria.
- Methamphetamine: This is another stimulant drug. It is relatively easy to make and usually inexpensive, making it a commonly sought-after drug.
- Adderall and other stimulants: Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are commonly sought after by teenagers and young adults.
Extreme Risks Come With Buying Illegal Drugs Online
Purchasing any substance online carries some risk. Although there are legitimate online pharmacies, these are often not the first ones to come up when searching on the web for online medications. Controlled substances, such as opioids, stimulants and benzodiazepines, are especially sought after online. It is important to remember that purchasing controlled substances without a prescription is a federal offense and can result in imprisonment.
A study released in 2017 found that 74% of online pharmacies calling themselves “Canadian pharmacies” were actually sourcing drugs from outside of Canada. None of the websites that were investigated required a prescription to order medications, which violates federal law and also subjects patients to serious risk.
Some of the legal risks of being caught while selling or trading drugs online include:
- Teens sharing or selling drugs could lead to them being charged as drug dealers
- Parents of minors could be found at fault in some cases
- Felony charges for importing or distributing drugs illegally could be imposed, resulting in legal action including fines or imprisonment
There are many health risks associated with purchasing drugs online. Most online sources of drugs are not operating legally. Because of this, they do not have any oversight to ensure the dispensing of medications is being done properly. Some of the health risks associated with buying drugs online include:
- Outdated medications: Medications being sold past their expiration date can be associated with loss of efficacy or the possibility of degradation. In addition to being ineffective, expired drugs may contain harmful degradation compounds.
- Improper storage: Online pharmacies without oversight are not held to regulations regarding proper storage of medications. Even if the medication isn’t expired, there is no way of knowing if it was stored properly. This is also associated with loss of effectiveness and possible development of harmful compounds.
- Diluted medications: Drugs sold online may be cut or diluted with other substances to increase profits. It is impossible to know whether this has occurred and what substance was used in the diluting process. Dilution may sometimes be done with harmful compounds.
- Fake medications: Counterfeit medications are a big problem in the world of online pharmacies. Fake drugs can be ineffective at best and dangerous or even fatal at worst.
- Incorrect medications: The lack of oversight in illegal online pharmacies does not allow for proper medication identification and verification. This may result in patients receiving the incorrect drug. Although mistakes can happen in legitimate pharmacies, the chances of mistakes occurring in illegal pharmacies are much higher.
There are many social risks associated with buying and selling drugs online. There is the chance that personal information could be compromised or stolen, putting someone at risk for identity theft and other frauds. If the physical transaction of handing off drugs sold online occurs in person or face to face, this can also put a person at risk. It is impossible to know whether someone met online is armed and dangerous or has other ill intentions, such as human trafficking.
It is important to be very cautious when purchasing drugs online. Although some online pharmacies are legitimate, many are not, and there is no guarantee of regulation or oversight with illegal pharmacies. Legal action could be taken against someone who purchases drugs online without a prescription, especially controlled substances. Selling drugs online has inherent dangers as well, including legal trouble, financial risks and risks to personal safety.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a resource called BeSafeRx that can help you determine if an online pharmacy you’ve found is legitimate.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, The Recovery Village is here to help. Reach out to our team today to learn more about comprehensive treatment plans.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Consumer Alert: Report Suspected Unlawful Sales of Pharmaceutical Drugs on the Internet.” (n.d.). Accessed July 31, 2019. National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. “So-Called Canadian Pharmacies are a Danger to Consumers, NABP Reports.” August 21, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2019. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.” February 13, 2018. Accessed July 31, 2019. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Know Your Online Pharmacy.” August 17, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2019.
Drug Enforcement Administration. “Consumer Alert: Report Suspected Unlawful Sales of Pharmaceutical Drugs on the Internet.” (n.d.). Accessed July 31, 2019.
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. “So-Called Canadian Pharmacies are a Danger to Consumers, NABP Reports.” August 21, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2019.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.” February 13, 2018. Accessed July 31, 2019.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Know Your Online Pharmacy.” August 17, 2017. Accessed July 31, 2019.