Adolescents and even children in Quintana Roo are increasingly prone to have access to drugs, mainly synthetic drugs. The reason is that during the confinement, caused by the pandemic, the “dealers” massified their presence in social networks.
According to information from the Cybernetic Police and the State Attorney General’s Office, in the period from 2020 to mid-2022, 5,800 profiles and Facebook pages offering drugs such as LSD for up to 150 pesos were reported. Seventy percent of the consumers of these narcotics were minors between the ages of 11 to 20 years old.
And this is not counting accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and other platforms that are not being checked by the authorities.
In a similar period, but from 2017 to the end of 2019, only 201 profiles of “cyber” drug sellers had been registered.
For its part, the National Survey of Drug Consumption among Students revealed that Quintana Roo was one of the three states that reported an increase in the consumption of these substances among adolescents: from 16% in 2018 it went to 23% at the beginning of 2022. The most preferred among adolescents was marijuana, followed by LCD.
“The pandemic changed many things, and the sale of drugs is one of them,” says psychologist Paola Vargas Vázquez, a specialist in the subject, who explained that before Covid-19 the main places of sale in Quintana Roo were restaurants and nightclubs, but with the closure of these they had to resort to social networks to a greater extent.
“And what happened? They gained access to a market that until now represented a minimal part of their buyers: teenagers. And before it was difficult for them to be found in the places of sale, but with the confinement, and considering that 8 out of 10 adolescents between 11 and 17 years old have access to social networks, it was easy to sell them these substances,” she said.
She added that the isolation, depression and anxiety caused by the quarantine, as well as the rise of influencers who showed that getting high was “cool”, led to a massive demand for drugs by this sector, which drug dealers knew how to take advantage of very well.
She points out that rehabilitation centers such as the one she is part of in Playa del Carmen have received four times more teenagers with drug problems in the last two years than in the whole of the last decade.
She lamented that the authorities are being overtaken by this phenomenon, as they have not yet established a strategy to combat it.
“They are just discovering the problem, and it will take at least a couple of years for them to design effective policies to prevent and diminish this situation. In the meantime, we are causing enormous damage to our adolescents, because at least 30% of the drugs they consume do not have a good ending,” she concluded.