Opioid Sales Rising on the Dark Web
Why is opioid use disorder on the rise and why is the opioid epidemic still pummeling the United States?
In part at least, swelling opioid sales on the dark web are responsible. Today, we’ll be giving you a quick insight into how American consumers are buying drugs online with the same ease as picking up a book on Amazon.
We have had online drug marketplaces since at least 2011, when Silk Road disrupted the way people buy drugs., shifting from dark alleys to the dark web. Buying drugs online allows consumers to order from a smorgasbord of narcotics, delivered to the door via the postal system. From opioids and marijuana to crack, heroin, and fentanyl, it’s a porous buyer’s market.
According to a recent University of Texas study, illegal drug sales online are not only commonplace, but also tough to detect. With an uptick in the use of opioid painkillers, fentanyl, and heroin, lead author Tiffany Champagne-Langabeer states this is fueling the opioid epidemic.
The reason that law enforcement struggle to crack down on these online drug sales is the fact they are conducted out of plain sight on the dark web. We’ll give you a snapshot into these online marketplaces, but first a few words on opioids, the cause of current concern in the wake of recent research.
What are Opioids and Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic narcotic analgesics. This means the drugs do not occur naturally, and the active ingredients are chemically created in a lab.
Opioids act in just the same way as opiates like morphine when they enter the body. The drug interacts with your body’s opioid receptors.
Oxycodone and hydrocodone are the most common prescription opioids in the US. Fentanyl, a manmade opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine, is becoming a more acute concern.
Used short-term, opioids are highly effective painkillers. The medication can also reduce anxiety. Numbing the body and mind while blunting your perception of pain, opioids can trigger side effects like drowsiness and nausea. Abusing opioids brings about a powerful and euphoric high, but this is fleeting. The short-lived effects cause users to take more and more of opioids, ultimately leading to dependence and opioid use disorder.
So, with such a powerful drug typically only available by prescription now flooding the market from global suppliers using the mail service as their drug courier, what is the dark web exactly?
The Dark Web: Basics
There are three layers to the internet.
- Surface web
- Deep web
- The dark web
All regular web pages indexed by the main search engines – the Landmark Recovery website, for instance – belong to the surface web.
Beneath this visible layer lie all those pages that search engines cannot access. This does not denote contentious or sinister content. Any work intranets, all pages accessible via passwords, Netflix and Amazon pages, and your Facebook Messenger inbox are all example of deep web content. You can only access this material by clicking a link from another webpage, or inputting the exact web address.
Below this hidden but non-inflammatory layer comes the dark web, the area of the internet researchers in the Texas study penetrated. Most estimates suggest roughly 5% of all web content resides on the dark web. A 2015 study of dark web content found over 50% of all material was illicit.
The fact that dark web content is inaccessible to search engines like Google is an asset for anyone looking to buy or sell illegal narcotics online.
Now, while the authors made much of the “programming language” they used, accessing the dark web really isn’t that difficult…
Buying Opioids on the Dark Web
You need to use an anonymizing web browser like TOR (the onion router). When you make web page requests through TOR browser, these requests are routed via a sequence of proxy web servers. This renders your IP address untraceable.
Search engines devoted to narcotics like Kilos list tens of thousands of drugs across multiple marketplaces. Authors of the University of Texas study found almost 250,000 listings related to opioids on dark marketplaces, with over 28,000 product listing for opioids.
Aside from a sluggish browsing experience and web addresses that end with the suffix .onion rather than .com, using the dark web is little different from using the clear web.
Since Google won’t throw up search results for pages that are not indexed, you’ll need to consult a listing like The Hidden Wiki so you know where you’re going.
When it comes to making a purchase for opioids online, you’ll need to use a cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
As you would expect, a sprawling and unregulated marketplace like this attracts legions of scammers and con-artists.
Why Buying Opioids on the Dark Web is Dangerous
At first glance, buying narcotics online might seem like a safer alternative to braving the physical black market.
In reality, though, buying opioids online is anything but safe. When you get a prescription refilled, you are confident the end product will be as expected. Opioids sold online are often counterfeit, and they can also be cut with other harmful agents like fentanyl.
When you buy opioids online from untrusted sources, you’ll also be faced with unquantifiable delays as the medication is mailed. This is less than ideal if you need opioids for pain relief.
The crowning insult is that law enforcement agencies are fully aware of these marketplaces. You could end up with a visit from DEA agents rather than a package of opioids on the doormat. Is it worth the risk of being exposed to federal drug charges?
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment at Landmark Recovery
If you’ve been using opioids to the extent that tolerance has set in, diving down into the dark web could expose you to more danger than buying drugs in a dark alley. Not only do you have no idea what you’re buying, you could easily fall prey to scammers. Beyond this, you’ll be exposing yourself to a potential felony charge into the bargain.
Here at Landmark Recovery, we offer robust and personalized treatment programs for opioid use disorder to help you reclaim the life you lost to addictive prescription painkillers. Call the friendly team today at 888-448-0302 to get back on track.
Apr 27, 2021
Posted in: Drug