Instagram now surfaces substance misuse resources for relevant searches

Users who click through the popup will be provided with anonymous support hotlines, a treatment facility locator, peer support guidance, and other substance abuse education.
By Dave Muoio
04:09 pm

Following in the footsteps of its parent company, Instagram is looking reduce its potential role in the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Whenever a user searches a drug or substance-related term on the platform, they will now be served a popup that includes a link to addiction and drug misuse resources. Should users click through the popup alert, Instagram redirects to a webpage asking users whether they or someone they know has a problem with opioids or other substances.

Through these, the user can view a number of resources including free and anonymous support hotlines, a treatment facility locator, external educational materials, and other suggestions. Should the user indicate that their acquaintance may be affected by misuse, the support page includes suggestions on how best to provide both direct or indirect support.

"The opioid epidemic is an issue that affects millions of people, and we want to use our platform to offer resources to those who need it — in the places where they are seeking help. This is an important step for us in our ongoing commitment to make Instagram the kindest, safest social network,” Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy, said in a statement cited by BuzzFeed News.

The notification is currently live in the US and will soon launch worldwide, according to BuzzFeed News.

Social media has been the recipient of some harsh criticism from the FDA, congress, and others over its enablement of illicit drug activities. As such, this effort from the social media company isn’t too surprising, especially after its parent company Facebook launched a similar feature just months ago seeking to limit substance abuse content on their platforms and in the real world.

Both Instagram and Facebook have similar support pages in place for other potential health issues, such as self-injury and suicide prevention. At one point, Facebook was also reportedly considering partnerships with US health organizations to share anonymized patient data for medical research purposes.


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