After Her Son’s Overdose Death, This Therapist Is Educating Parents On Drug-Related Emojis

Trigger warning: loss of children
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in 2019 there were 4,777 overdose deaths in young adults ages 15 to 24. 3,391 of these deaths were attributable to heroin or other illegal opioids. The number of teenage overdose deaths continues to rise, and experts are asking parents for their help to end the opioid epidemic.
Dr. Laura Berman, a relationship therapist, warns parents of the dangers of social media related to their son's death from an overdose. Berman's son, Sammy, hooked up with a drug dealer on Snapchat and received Xanax or Percocet (toxicology pending) spiked with fentanyl. He overdose in his room while sheltering at home during the pandemic. “My heart is completely broken and I don't know how to keep breathing. I'm just posting this now so that no more child dies, "she said in an Instagram post.
Berman mentioned that Sammy was a straight A student preparing for college. She warned that they were watching him closely, but that the drugs were being delivered to their home, purchased from a Snapchat encounter. It was drug experiments that ended fatally.
Opioids, mostly synthetic, are the leading cause of overdose deaths, according to the CDC. Of the opioid-related deaths, 72.9% were from synthetic opioids. And in 2019, there were 49,860 deaths from opioids, accounting for 70.6% of all drug overdose deaths.
The NIDA defines fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent. It is used to treat patients with extreme pain who often tolerate other opioids. Fentanyl is commonly known by several names including Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Jackpot, Murder 8, and Tango & Cash.
Teens use these common names and emojis to talk about drugs with one another. Berman posted a graphic on her Instagram feed showing common drug names and the emojis teenagers use in place of those names. Many followers were surprised by what they saw.
“I really had no idea about any of this! Thank you for channeling your grief into this necessary message. And I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your son, ”said one follower.
Others praised Berman for raising others.
“Laura Berman comes straight to the early intervention nexus. How awesome that she deciphered deadly transactions with such harmless emojis. I read everything and didn't know anything about it. Spread the word. Save a life, ”commented another.
Her goal is to educate parents on the technical jargon their teenagers may use and to help them be ready when a situation arises that may require intervention. By simply knowing what to look for, parents can be better equipped to help their children.
Millions of teenagers use social media every day. They follow content creators, interact with friends, and create their own social media footprint. As your individual networks grow, so too do the potential dangers of social media. Teenagers are suggestible and if they are not careful they can get into precarious situations online. This is where Berman wants to help.
She has started a petition to beg social media giants like Snapchat, Instagram and Tik Tok, asking them to allow third-party apps like Bark, a social media monitoring tool, to alert parents to dangerous content on social media to draw their children's attention to accounts. Berman said these apps could provide lifesaving interventions for parents and children. “For example, if a child expresses suicidal thoughts on social media, a parent who received an alert through a third-party safety app can provide immediate psychological support. We know from statistics that these warnings saved the lives of thousands of children, ”she said. In order for these apps to work, the social media channels need to give permission. Berman's petition currently has more than 33,000 signatures and is still growing.
It remains to be seen what social media sites will enable in terms of monitoring. Until these types of apps are approved, it is 100% up to parents to vigilantly monitor our children's online activities. The world is a scary place that is not good to children. Dangers lurk around every corner, and while we want to trust our children, we need to be hip in what they do and say. And that can mean that part of your privacy is being violated.
There's nothing in the rulebooks that says you can't check your children's texts. No, there is nothing wrong with questioning who they are talking to or what they are talking about. And yes, you can - and should - follow your teenagers on their social media accounts. It could really mean the difference between life and death. Never feel ashamed to ask questions. You may not be the cool mom, but you are the informed mom. And that's the mother your child needs.
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