Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The bane that is Internet: Drugs online

Perhaps another one technology that has become both a blessing and a curse is internet: being a mine for online marketers, legally, that is, the internet is now a big mine of gold for illegal online marketers - they not only take your money away from you with both eyes wide open - they do so with your "willingness and open participation"!

And with parents not at home, the supposedly 'safe abode' is easily penetrated and invaded by predators - all through the thin wire (literally) of internet.

Parents, beware.

With the internet wide open through our computers portal, no home is safe.

Read on...

Keeping Your Child from Internet Drugs

James D. Zirin,

The drug culture of the fabled 1960s has now assumed a stark, contemporary reality. At the top of The New York Times Best-Sellers List this week is Beautiful Boy by David Sheff, a sadly typical tale of a father's "struggles with his son's meth addiction."

Nic Sheff's drug problems began at age 12, when his father found a bag of marijuana in his backpack. In high school, Nic, who has also just published a book about his addiction, learned to shoot up by studying a diagram on the Internet. By age 17, Nic was hooked on crystal meth; he fell into a decade-long boiling cauldron of substance abuse where he almost died. The account is sobering.
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Although data shows the use of hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin has trailed off in recent years, the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly by children, and many freely available online, has soared. According to the National Institute of Health, 20% of Americans have used prescription drugs for recreational purposes.

The number of Americans involved in abuse of controlled prescription substances has more than doubled over the past decade or so, to nearly 17 million. Teenagers abusing prescription drugs number around 2.7 million, according to the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA).

CASA reports that more than half the nation's 12-to-17 year olds are at greater risk of substance abuse because of high stress, frequent boredom, too much spending money, or some catastrophic combination thereof.Abuse among college students is estimated at 20%, and not much is being done about it.

"It's time to get the 'high' out of higher education," declares CASA Chairman and Founder Joseph A. Califano Jr.

The trend toward early substance abuse is a cause for special concern. Young teens often start off with prescription drugs such as pain killers, tranquilizers and sedatives to relax, cope with stress or reduce inhibitions. They then graduate to alcohol abuse and even illicit drugs. It is beyond controversy that early abuse of any addictive substance spikes the chances of long-term dependence.

Studies conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America show that 40% of American adults believe it is safe to take prescription drugs without a prescription. Why else would doctors prescribe them?

The problem is intensified by the widespread availability of drugs on the Internet. As every Web surfer knows, rogue Web sites are proliferating, along with their offerings of opiates, stimulants, downers, uppers and performance enhancers carefully crafted to appeal to the youngest and most vulnerable.

"The easy availability of addictive opioids, depressants and stimulants on the net has, for many children, made the Internet a greater threat than the illegal street drug dealer," says Califano.

One need not actively surf the Web to find these sites. Many of them solicit, via spam e-mails that invite the consumer to buy prescription drugs without a prescription. If you didn't get an e-mail, a Google search for "opiates but no prescription" produces over a million hits for sites, many of them offshore, offering controlled substances delivered to your door in a plain wrapper. All you need is a credit card.

The dangers of Internet-transmitted substance abuse are not limited to Web sites selling the substances. Recipes and "how-to" instructions abound. A savvy teenager can readily find on the net manuals for how to grow marijuana, get high on household goods and mix dangerous drinks such as Purple Haze, a potent alcoholic concoction named after a song written by Jimi Hendrix and performed by Britney Spears. Hendrix died in London of a drug overdose. And we don't need to tell you about Britney Spears.

The problem illustrates the dangers lurking within a free Internet. While normally, our preference is for less, rather than more, government regulation, some legislation may be necessary in this case. First, we need laws requiring all ISPs--any organization that provides Internet access--to screen out illegal content, or content soliciting an illegal transaction, once they are notified of its existence.

Google routinely removes specified pages from its search results, mainly because of claimed trademark or copyright infringement. Why can't it remove rogue drug Web sites? Or at least provide stern and familiar warnings as to the consequences of illegal abuse?

This effort will also require the cooperation of financial intermediaries such as PayPal and credit card companies. Without access to credit card payment, illegal drug dealers are out of business.

Of course, neither legislation and regulation nor more vigorous law enforcement provide the complete answer. The most effective approach is to stamp out demand--it is far more effective to kill the message than the messenger or the intermediary. Parents are key here. Warning ads at sites where drugs are purchased could also be quite effective. Nothing could be more important than talking to children early and often about drugs and how dangerous substance abuse is.

And nothing could be more poignant than a parent's story of a child who lost his or her life to drugs. The recent tragic deaths of Daniel Smith, the 20-year-old son of Anna Nicole Smith (herself the victim of an overdose), and Academy Award winner Heath Ledger, at age 28, are but two examples of the horrific consequences of substance abuse. Nic Sheff is one of the lucky ones--he is still alive.

From; source article is below:Keeping Your Child from Internet Drugs

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