Anyone that has access to the internet will have been subjected to pop-ups with offers of cheap medication delivered to your door, or maybe it is your email account that has been bombarded with spam ads claiming they can sell you Viagra, slimming or sleeping pills – no need for a prescription.
In a world that grows ever more online with each passing day, absolutely anything can now be bought or sold digitally, and that includes drugs. Whether you are trying to reduce your pharmacy costs, purchase something you really should see a doctor for, or get a home delivery of an illegal substance such as cannabis or cocaine, it can all be bought on the internet – if you know where to look…. and you are willing to take the risk.
There are an estimated 35-40,000 online pharmacies that operate worldwide, and around 95% of these are operating illegally in some way. That could be for any number of reasons; they are selling you a drug that should only be issued with a prescription; the substance you are buying is controlled; they are trading in counterfeit, substandard or out of date medicine.
Last May, Operation Pangea saw Interpol working in 92 countries to shut down a record number of illicit and fake online pharmacies. 100,000 different online shopping sites were closed or removed, nearly 300 arrests made, and fake medicines worth almost £10 million seized.
The World Health Organization claims that 50% of drugs sold online are fakes. Products sold by illegal online pharmacies are often manufactured in unsafe conditions, with no quality control. They contain little or no active ingredients, and in some cases are manufactured using dangerous and potentially deadly substances.
Patients are buying products they need to keep them alive, (diabetes, heart, or blood pressure medication for instance) and are being delivered sugar pills or worse. They are at best missing vital daily doses of their prescription because what they are taking is no more than starch or sugar wrapped up in a coating. In an even worse scenario, their prescription has been cut with a cheaper toxic substance such as arsenic or ethylene glycol, a constituent of antifreeze.
Whilst it might be easier and seem cheaper, to log on at home and have your prescription delivered to your front door, unless you are using a reputable pharmacy, holding all the correct licences, you can never be completely sure of what you are buying.
If it is illegal drugs that you are after, then you are not going to find them for sale on the part of the internet most of us spend time on. Most of us only use the surface web, sites that can be accessed via search engines such as Google. The “Dark Web” forms part of the deep web, sites that are hidden, encrypted, and can only be accessed using authorisation codes, specific software, and specialised routing networks such as Tor – created to navigate the dark web, or as it is also called the darknet.
The dark web is a marketplace for the buying and selling of all things illegal. This is where anonymous individuals go to purchase (amongst other things) weapons, stolen identities, pornography, and drugs. The encryption, anonymity, and the prolific use of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin, make the darknet almost (but not completely) impossible to police or regulate.
In 2013 the FBI – Federal Bureau of investigation shut down “Silk Road” which was (at the time) said to be the world’s biggest illegal drug marketplace, and which is reported to have had an estimated $1.2 billion in revenue since its creation. According to some sources “Silk Road 2.0” was up and running inside a year.
For some the idea of buying drugs online from the comfort of your home, without the risks of meeting a dealer in some dark alley is a boon. However, the inescapable reality is that the buying of any controlled substances, including medicinal drugs without a prescription, is illegal. These dark websites offer a level of protection with their encryption and anonymity, but there is no guarantee you won’t get caught.
With illegal and prescription drugs now available 24 hours a day, online, in-person and over the counter, addiction is even harder to escape from.
For those struggling with an addiction to any type of substance, help is available. Drop-in centres, 12-step fellowship meetings and residential rehabs can be found all over the world. Check with your GP or local healthcare provider to see what is available in your area.
Halting the use of certain drugs may require a medical detox as individuals can become both physically and psychologically dependent on the substance whilst taking it. Withdrawal can be difficult and, in some cases, dangerous if the drug is stopped completely and suddenly, so getting professional help is advisable. A residential rehab centre that can oversee a medically supervised detox is the ideal place to start one’s recovery journey.
Here in Ibiza, at our luxury residential addiction rehab centre, we have a highly qualified team of doctors, therapists, and staff, all experienced in the treatment of substance and process addictions, including drugs – illicit and prescription – alcohol and gambling, as well as other mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and trauma.
We use a range of methods such as individual and group counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), equine-facilitated psychotherapy and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR).
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