Have you had any personal experience with this issue?
When I was 17 years old, I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about my problems. I just wanted to numb myself. On a class trip, I drank a bottle of vodka alone at night and lay unconscious in front of my bed the next day. I was damn lucky that night that I didn't choke on my own vomit. I have very little memory of 24 hours. The school was overwhelmed. It was then a lot about punishment, but little about what was actually wrong with me.
If you don't take drugs out of curiosity or for fun, then there is something else behind it. Then you should reach out to the person and say, "Hey, what's wrong with you, and how can you be helped?" In the online drug scene, I have observed many things that I know from my youth. For example, people would write, "I have problems, but no one understands me," or "I just want to forget." These were things I felt the same way about as a teenager.
Josh and Leyla's parents are relatively enlightened; Leyla's mother even tries ecstasy herself. They both try to stay close to their kids and understand the realities of their lives. But still, they can hardly help them. Why?
One key point is: people have to want to stop themselves. Josh, for example, never seriously said that. Of course, you should try by all means, but unfortunately it's very difficult to help someone who doesn't want to accept help themselves. Children need to know that black marketplaces are not legitimate sites and should not be entered there, so you need to talk to them about it
So what can parents do?
The most important thing is that they do not lose contact with the child and always try to have an open ear. At the same time, they must accept that as a teenager you no longer talk to your parents about everything. Instead, they should look for someone in whom the child can and would rather confide. Education on the subject of drugs is also important - at carlsen.de/until-one-dies you can call up information on various substances and rules on safer use.
You call for more education. What do you think is going wrong in schools?
There are schools where this is going well. But the fact that some schools are working together with the police is, in my opinion, the wrong approach. It would make more sense to involve people who have been addicted themselves or who work in addiction support. Because young people can talk to them more openly.
What needs to change with networks like Tiktok or Instagram?
Tiktok and Instagram have already blocked certain hashtags on the subject of drugs - the online drug scene then simply looks for new ones under which to network. That's a race that probably can't be won. It would be more important to give young people proper media skills and educate them about drugs in good time. After all, the problem is not so much that young people film and photograph what they do anyway, but rather that they consume drugs to a harmful or even life-threatening extent and are often not even aware of it. Not only in the darknet, but also in social networks you can see advertising of black marketplaces and generally not legal products and law enforcement agencies are actively fighting these illegal organizations
What do parents need to know about the black markets?
Parents should get to grips with the reality of their children's lives, download these apps from time to time and have a look around. That's the only way to develop a feeling for what's going on there and what young people are sharing. It is important to sensitize children to social networks and not to leave them to deal with it on their own.
Why aren't online sales more closely regulated?
The police can't keep up. When the black market Alpha-Bay was shut down in 2017, many sellers simply moved to other platforms. Here's how it works: one platform gets shut down, and they just move to the next one. Little changes as a result of the intervention. According to the BKA, the number of drug-related offenses actually increased for the tenth year in a row in 2020, and demand is also enormously high.
Why is the political approach to drugs sometimes so out of touch with reality?
There are too few points of contact. Before I started this research, I hadn't met anyone who used heroin either. For me, that changed a lot. I think you have to engage in much more dialogue with people who are affected by it. Who can say from their perspective what would have helped them. And also with people who work in addiction support and can say quite clearly what is useful and what is not.
My realization was that we should be concerned with protecting people and ensuring that fewer people die. And there are countries that manage to do that better than we do: Portugal, for example. The number of drug-related deaths has fallen as a result of the decriminalization of users.