The Bark Blog                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
mom and daughter talking, illustrated pill bottle in thought bubble All

What Parents Need to Know About Laced Drugs & Social Media

Haley Zapal  |  May 29, 2024

Drug dealers today don’t just peddle marijuana and cocaine — there’s an incredibly surging market for illegal prescription pills like Xanax, Adderall, and Oxycodone. But these pills aren’t just straight from the pharmacy in plastic orange bottles. Dealers looking to make a profit lace them with other substances, most frequently fentanyl. These laced drugs can cause deadly overdoses with just a minuscule amount of the opioid.

Because of this, fentanyl is one of the deadliest drugs in the U.S. right now, and the scariest part is that it’s 50 times more potent than heroin. In this post, you’ll learn about this dangerous practice, along with why kids should understand that no illegal drugs are safe from being laced with fentanyl.

Disturbing Facts About Fentanyl

The DEA recently published a public safety alert that features some truly eye-opening stats about the prevalence and anger of fentanyl-laced drugs. Here are just a few:

  • Of the fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills analyzed in 2022, six out of ten now contain a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.
  • 107,622 Americans died of drug poisoning in 2021, with 66 percent of those deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
  • In 2021, the DEA seized more than 20.4 million fake prescription pills.

Why Are Drugs Laced, Anyway?

Dealers lace drugs for two main reasons, and they often go hand in hand. Firstly, they do it to stretch their supply as a cost-saving measure. Secondly, adding super addictive things like fentanyl also increases the potency, which can lead to quicker addiction. Fentanyl is both easy to obtain and cheap, which makes it the go-to choice for drug dealers looking to add it to their product.

It’s Impossible to Tell If a Pill Is Laced By Looking at It

Many people — kids included — think that a laced pill would be visibly obvious. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as a lethal amount of fentanyl can fit on the tip of a sharpened pencil, and drug dealers purposely mold counterfeit pills to look nearly identical to real ones. The DEA website One Pill Can Kill has a slideshow that lets you compare fake pills and actual ones — it’s shockingly difficult. Fentanyl especially is nearly impossible to detect, as it is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

Kids Can Unknowingly Buy Fentanyl-Laced Drugs With the Tap of a Button

Apps like Snapchat aren’t just dangerous because of disappearing messages — they also are platforms that drug dealers use to solicit to children. In 2020, a drug dealer reached out to  16-year-old Sammy Chapman on Snapchat, and a fentanyl-laced pill was delivered to his house.

Sammy tragically died of an overdose from this encounter. Because of this unfortunate event, Sammy’s parents have been advocating for Sammy’s Law, a bill that would require social media companies to let third-party parental control apps like Bark work on their platforms. 

But Sammy’s story is far from an isolated event. Kids order drugs every day on Snapchat and Instagram — and while they’re not always laced, the chances are enormously high that they may be. No family deserves to be subject to that game of life-or-death chance.

How Bark Can Help Protect Your Child from Drug Dealers

Bark can help parents know what’s going on in their child’s world by monitoring for mentions of drugs, alcohol, and many other issues like bullying, online predators, and violence. If something concerning is found — like a text exchange talking about pills or photos of a baggy of drugs — parents will get an alert so they can check in and make sure everything is okay.

And for apps that are harder to monitor, like Snapchat we discussed above, Bark also lets you block them, helping to give you peace of mind that they’re staying off dangerous platforms. Start your free, 7-day trial to see how Bark can work for your family. 

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls