/ /

  • linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    Tales from the Dark Web: illicit drugs, bitcoins, and social media


    Bitcoin, social media, and the Dark Web

    First of all, we “rule followers” typically surf the surface Web. New, synthetic drugs can be purchased over the surface web and easily shipped to your home (or a post-office box) in small packages for your convenience. The Dark Web is typically more popular for illicit drug seekers because it enables anonymous browsing. Dark Web browsers can be downloaded to your computer, tablet, or phone.

    Drugs are purchased using Bitcoin—which I thought was used to play video games. Bitcoin is virtual currency kept in a virtual wallet. When making a purchase, it is recorded in a public log but requires only the wallet ID as identification for purchases. It is essentially untraceable—perfect for drug transactions. If you are not into virtual money, some vendors do accept wire transfers.

    Social media sites are now also being used for the drug trade. Some examples include Instagram and Kik. While we know Instagram as the photo and video sharing application, users can post pictures of their product and can message privately or in groups to connect with dealers.

    A quick search for #drugs4sale led me to weeds_buddy, weedsusa, weeds4sale, Onlinedrugmarket, isellspeed, fryc2k, that_boywizard, and my favorite, frathouseusa.

    Hashtags for keywords make searching for drugs easier within social media applications. Kik, Whisper, Grindr, or similar direct messaging applications allow direct messaging without identifying information such as name or cell phone number. Excuse me while I confiscate my children’s tablets and phones.

    Related: Scary good tips to celebrate Halloween at the office

    Bath salts are not bath bombs

    What types of drugs are typically obtained over the Internet?

    Bath salts, or synthetic cathinones, should not be confused with the fuzzy bombs for your bathtub. These drugs are chemically related to a stimulant found in the khat plant indigenous to East Africa and southern Arabia.

    There, people chew the leaves for mild stimulant effects. Synthetic compounds are stronger and more dangerous. They may be touted as cheaper versions of methamphetamines, cocaine, or “molly” methylenedioxymethamphetamine

     (MDMA). They may be sold online under various names, including Flakka, Bloom, Lunar Wave, Vanilla Sky, Scarface, and Cloud Nine.1

    People may snort, swallow, smoke, or inject these substances, which are monoamine reuptake inhibitors and increase levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and in some cases serotonin. These synthetic compounds have been reported to cause blurred vision due to pupil dilation, nystagmus, and ocular muscle spasms.2 One form in particular, Flakka (α-pyrovalerone) can be vaporized using an electronic cigarette device.

    Related: Why patient education is bit like fortune telling

    Agonists bind

    “Spice” or synthetic cannabinoids were legally sold within the U.S. until 2011. In 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act was signed into law banning 15 synthetic cannabinoids.3 While THC is a partial agonist, synthetic versions are full agonists. They have been reported to produce blurred vision, pupil dilation, and nystagmus, as well as severe persistent headaches.4

    Note that smoking of THC-rich extracts is increasing and is known as “dabbing.” Extracts may be sold as hash or honey oil, wax or budder (similar to lip balm), and shatter—an amber colored solid. Extracts are often much stronger than traditional marijuana and may be prepared using lighter fluid.5

    Tracy Schroeder Swartz, OD, MS, FAAO
    Tracy Schroeder Swartz currently practices at Madison Eye Care Center in Madison, Alabama. She serves as Education Chair for the ...


    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • No comments available

    Optometry Times A/V