In February of 2021, it was reported in the media that well-known TV host and relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman’s sixteen-year-old son tragically passed away from a drug overdose.

Shockingly, her son obtained the drugs via a drug dealer on the popular social media app Snapchat. The app, which features a prominent bright yellow logo, allows users to send photos, videos, and chat messages back and forth – with the unique premise that the sent items can disappear after being seen unless the recipient takes a screenshot (which notifies the sender).

In an emotional Instagram post on February 7, 2021, Dr. Berman wrote, “My beautiful boy is gone. 16 years old. Sheltering at home. A drug dealer connected with him on Snapchat and gave him fentanyl laced Xanax or Percocet (toxicology will tell) and he overdosed in his room,” she wrote. “They do this because it hooks people even more and is good for business but It causes overdose and the kids don’t know what they are taking. My heart is completely shattered and I am not sure how to keep breathing. I post this now only so that not one more kid dies.” (Quote via @drlauraberman on Instagram).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families around the world find themselves spending most of their time at home, and kids and teenagers are doing online learning in most school districts. It’s hard to imagine that a child or teen would be able to access any harmful substance by simply staying in their home, but in Laura’s case, that’s exactly what happened.

Her son connected to a drug dealer through Snapchat, and ultimately was able to access the drugs after someone dropped them off to him at their home. It’s frightening to think that kids and teens who are doing nothing more than spending time in their rooms can, in a matter of days or hours, be connected to hard drugs and other substances from a free app on their cell phones.

It’s not just Snapchat where this type of access can be found. Other chat-based apps such as WhatsApp and Threema are also very popular and can lead kids and teens to negative influences or even dangerous situations.

For parents of kids and teens that have cell phones or access to the internet, talking to them is the best way to prevent something like an overdose from happening. Open up a conversation with your kids about what apps they are using, what apps their friends use, and warn them of the dangers that can come from seemingly innocent interactions.

Teens especially are in a rebellious phase of life and might be looking for something ‘exciting’ and stimulating to pass the time while at home. That’s usually when they turn to things like drugs and alcohol which they will try to hide from their parents. Many teens don’t know of or fully realize the negative consequences that can occur.

Dr. Berman courageously shared her tragic experience in the hopes that parents, kids, and teens will learn from what happened to her son. Just starting a dialogue about apps and the dangers of drugs and alcohol may save someone’s life.

Article by Heather Gunn