Instagram says people are using the platform’s hashtags to find addiction support and communities as well as illegal drugs. So, in response, the company is rolling out a pop-up today that’ll provide users with drug addiction resources if they search certain hashtags, like “opioid.” The pop-up reads:
“If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or substance misuse, find ways to get free and confidential treatment referrals, as well as information about substance abuse, prevention, and recovery.”
The user can then opt to get support resources that Instagram developed with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and the Partnership for Drug Free Kids. There will also be advice for family and friends of people with substance abuse problems.
Instagram says that while many people use these drug-related hashtags to find support communities, others misuse them to sell drugs. In some cases, Instagram has blocked or limited these hashtags, but this prevents helpful support communities from forming, the company says.
There are already similar resources built in to Facebook. If users search for certain drug-related topics, like “buy Xanax,” they’ll get a substance support box similar to Instagram’s. The company also blocks certain searches to prevent drug dealers from reaching people.
This new Instagram pop-up attempts to solve some of the platform’s drug issues, even if it doesn’t address the actual substance sales. It does at least give users a place to go if they’re searching for help.