When he was three months old, Ryan Le Blanc had his first dose of opioids, after surgery for a unilateral cleft palate. Now in his late 20s, the English-as-a-second language teacher has been subject to about 15 more surgeries with varying severity. With each operation that he underwent, Le Blanc was introduced to a new painkiller.
At age 14, Le Blanc started buying illegal opioids for fun. Two years later, at age 16, he would be injecting heroin, a habit that he would be carrying from high school through college graduation.
As a teenager, Le Blanc came across Bluelight.org, a drug forum now more than 20 years old. He read post after post — innumerable lines of text and images about the substances he was taking, how to take them safely, and how to quit.
Today, as the opioid epidemic worsens and claims about 130 lives daily in 2018 and in the United States alone, drug forums such as the one mentioned above are no longer just an area of interest for the forum users alone. Researchers have also taken an interest in drug forums, in hopes that they will know how to tackle the topic of drug use better.
...a cadre of researchers is looking for solutions to addiction and overdoses in the sprawl of drug forums. The researchers say that drug forums on the dark net — a catch-all for internet hubs that are often encrypted or unavailable through regular search engines — along with more mainstream counterparts like Bluelight and drug-related threads on the website Reddit, might be a medical or research tool in their own right.
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(Image Credit: Vacho/ Pixabay)