The internet has completely revolutionized virtually every aspect of our modern society. It has completely changed business, shopping, entertainment, how we access information, and how we communicate and socialize with each other. For the most part, the internet has created a positive impact. But in some ways, the internet has had a considerably negative impact. Beyond the rise of online scams and cyber attacks, one of the most destructive consequences of the internet has been the rise of the underground online drug trade.
The underground drug trade is nothing new, but the advent of the internet has given it an entirely new medium and helped to facilitate its expansion. One of the biggest ways the internet has expanded the drug trade is through online pharmacy websites. There are literally thousands of different websites that sell prescription medications. Some do require that a person provide a valid prescription, but a great deal of them do not. Even for sites that do require them, it can be relatively easy for a motivated addict to fake it.
These sites create a variety of major issues. For one thing, it makes it possible for teens to get access to these drugs. They can order them online without verifying their age and have the drugs shipped right to their door. Just being able to have these drugs shipped to your door increases the possibility for abuse. Quality and composition of the drugs is another issue. It’s difficult to know what you are truly getting. These sites can advertise a certain drug, but it’s difficult to know if it is the real thing or they are following FDA regulations.
The Dark Web
The other major way that the internet has expanded the drug trade is through the online black markets through the use of the dark web, which requires special equipment and software to operate. The dark web is completely unregulated and difficult for authorities to monitor, and is home to black markets for drugs, guns, sex trafficking, and other illegal activities. These sites offer both pharmaceutical drugs and illegal street drugs. One of the largest of these sites, called the Silk Road, was shut down by authorities a few years ago. Unfortunately it backfired, and several hundred more websites popped up in its place, dramatically increasing the size of the online drug trade. The issue with these sites is that they are heavily encrypted and virtually impossible to trace, so authorities have a very difficult time policing and shutting down these sites.
Addressing the Issue
Greater law enforcement presence and regulation is needed to ensure that online pharmacies are running ethically and legally, and that dark web drug sites are tracked down and shut down, and that the people running them are brought to justice. Only then can we hope to curb the dangerous industry of the online drug trade, and prevent dangerous, life threatening, and illegal drugs from being sent right to people’s homes. The last thing an addict needs is a more convenient way to access to access their drugs.