In a strange twist of social media, heroin addicts are using Instagram to share pictures of their addiction. With hashtags like #junkiesofig and #junkietrackmarks getting thousands of posts, this isn’t a fad. It looks like using social media, and the so-called junkies of Instagram are here to stay.
What exactly are the junkies of Instagram sharing pictures of? More to the point, how can social media be used to influence both addiction and recovery?
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Pictures of Syringes & Heroin
The most popular posts are pictures of drug paraphernalia, including syringes and heroin itself. There are also pictures of pills, pipes, and tinfoil. There even seem to be a few pictures of advertising drugs for sale.
The first question that comes to mind is, why? Why would someone in the depths of active addiction post pictures of their addiction? Why would they document their downward spiral and then show the world?
Addiction isolates people. It’s common for drug addicts to have strained relationships with their family and friends. Suddenly, the opportunity to share pictures about their addiction gives them a sense of community. It gives them a voice and the chance to interact with others experiencing the same addiction.
Unfortunately, it’s a vicious cycle. Perhaps the same cycle that feeds self-harm posts on Instagram.
Drug Dealers Taking Advantage
Perhaps what’s even more disheartening is the fact that drug dealers are taking advantage of this trend. While it might seem too risky, someone can create an account with fake names, emails, and phone numbers, making them virtually untraceable.
A search for the hashtag junkies brings a mix of posts that range from drug dealers showcasing a bag of crystal meth to someone sharing their love for oat milk. Unfortunately, the term “junkie” is now synonymous with things people love, which is why you see something like #fashionjunkieinstagram trending from time to time.
However, drug dealing over the Internet isn’t as easy, and the power still lies within consumers. Thankfully, Instagram uses artificial intelligence to analyze the photos. When their software detects something that looks like marijuana, syringes, or meth, it blocks the content and takes the picture off their platform.
Additionally, if you see an account posting as a drug dealer, you can always report the account to Instagram. Here’s how to report an account for spam or inappropriate content.
Instagram’s Ban of Drug-Related Posts
Back in 2013, posts about drug addiction were prominent on the social media platform. Fast forward to today, and these posts are harder to find. The Instagram platform chose to hide results from specific drug-related searches to try to help crack down on the rise of addiction and opioid overdoses.
For example, even if users add hashtags like #fentanyl, #opiates, #ketamine, and others, the app won’t show any photos for these searches.
Instagram also prompts users with addiction hotline numbers and self-harm prevention lines when searching for these types of hashtags. These are just other ways social media is trying to curve the addiction line.
In addition to these measures, Instagram also made it very easy for someone to flag and report inappropriate content. Hopefully, these strategies will lessen the link between social media and addiction, making the platform a safer space for recovering addicts. One day, the junkies of Instagram will no longer be cool.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to seek help. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our addiction specialists understand the importance of talking about digital triggers and can help you find the right drug treatment center.