The Place of Social Media in the War on Drugs this month

May 22, 2017 | by | 0 Comments

Spice in the UK.

There has been much talk of the ‘zombie spice apocalypse’ in the UK news over the last month, Spice being a kind of synthetic cannabis- a range of laboratory created drugs designed to mimic the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC for short.  Our news feeds have been flooded with unsettling images of staggering addicts, unaware of their surroundings, psychotic, unconscious or slumped semi conscious against walls and against each other. It has been reported that almost all of the homeless residents of Manchester in particular are using the drug, making their lives even more precarious and impacting families and the community to devastating effect.

Jason Shiers – A Psychotherapist with www.recovery.org.uk says, ‘It is important that treatment providers remain aware of the plethora of new drugs available to the addict today and adapt to the evolving and intersecting issues facing addicts.’

Heroin and Fentanyl.

Simultaneously, across the pond the war on drugs has been focused on the massive spike in heroin related deaths in  in Lake County, Florida. The drugs behind an epidemic of fatalities in the US are now spreading onto British shores, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned, following a spate of deaths in the north of England has been caused by heroin laced with fentanyl, an opioid 100 times stronger than street heroin, and carfentanil, a drug which 100 times stronger again and used by vets to tranquilise elephants.

The Cops on Social Media?

Both  scenarios could easily fit into a dystopian nightmare,  the interesting approach of Sheriff Peyton Grinell in Lake County, has attracted some attention – the Sherriff has taken to YouTube to post a video warning  to the heroin dealers, he stands, flanked by balaclava wearing  police officers (?) and to be watchful for the justice coming their way – the image they portray is not dissimilar to those terrorist ransom videos, designed to incite fear of a brutish force behind an ominous figurehead, or maybe a more fictionalised bomber jacketed hero of a dystopian city scape. Its unsettling to see the forces of law and order behaving thusly.

Winning Hearts and Minds

To try to reach the hearts and minds of the community in 2017 through social media, is not the issue however, that at least shows an engagement with contemporary life rather than a misguided clinging to past practice. People live here now, in the ‘metaverse’ so to speak. This is where our young people are, not just our young people, almost all of us have a presence on the internet, but certainly it’s most dedicated residents are our young people. No one could blame the authorities for thinking the best way to reach them would be through social media platforms than through traditional ‘just say no!’ style presentations in schools, though I am not sure that the intended audience will be watching and the style of delivery was wanting in my opinion.

Police Advise Caution

Whilst in the UK, police are patrolling the streets looking for dealers and users, Det Supt Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police, has issued a statement  saying: “We are however urging those people who regularly use Class A drugs and particularly those who purchase their drugs via street suppliers to be extremely cautious in relation to what they are taking…Anyone experiencing any unusual symptoms after taking drugs should seek immediate medical attention.”

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