Drug Use in the Social Media World and How It Can Affect You

Social media has had a history with drug use and teens; but a new app Tik Tok has been paving the way

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Photo: Sofia Metz

A spilled pill bottle is on top of a phone

Social Media can be one of the biggest on influences on teens for using drugs”

— Jenna Hillier

The app Tik Tok is one of the biggest social media sites on the App Store right now, and it also has one of the biggest teenage platforms as well.

“Social media can be one of the biggest influences on teens for using drugs,” said addiction specialist Jena Hillier.

A study done by Columbia University found that kids who use social media outlets were more likely to drink, use drugs, buy tobacco, and vape than adolescents who did not use social media. The survey asked 2,000 teens about their drug use and social media habits and 70% said that they use social media everyday. Researchers found that, compared to nonusers of social media, this group was five times more likely to buy cigarettes, three times more likely to drink, and twice as likely to use marijuana.

The app Tik Tok is one the most popular social media sites aimed at ages 10 to 19 and is used by 69% of teens according to a recent article, “Tik Tok is feeding an appetite for authenticity; Instagram may want to take notes.”

Tik Tok has removed 20 million videos in the first six months of 2020 concerning drugs, firearms, and human body parts according to Tik Tok’s own app data. The app doesn’t have a content filter so anyone can scroll too far and end up seeing something unwanted.

“Social Media is a glorified version of peer pressure. You have all of these eyes pressuring you on a major scale,” says UPrep’s guidance counselor, Andrea Moore regarding the use of drugs on Tik Tok.

“With teens, there can be a lack of information regarding drugs. They can think that everyone is doing drugs, when in reality nobody is,” Moore stated.

People are often given misinformation about drugs denying the science of it and believing in untrue health benefits.

“It is mostly promoted by the media that everyone is using them and you’re wimpy if you haven’t taken a hit,” says a student regarding their experience with drug use who would prefer to stay anonymous.

Over the years the use of drugs and teens, specifically hard drugs has gone down, according to a 2019 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The study found that teenagers aren’t drinking alcohol as much or using chemically enhancing narcotics, but there has been a skyrocketing use of vaping of marijuana and nicotine.

“Teens need to check themselves on social media, fact check, be careful and make sure they don’t do everything they see and really understand what content they are viewing,” said Moore.