Image: Josef Stuefer
A recent survey shows that ecstasy and LSD use among 16-24-year-olds has increased by 84% and 175% respectively in the past year . Overall drug use has remained constant  – so why are these two gaining popularity with young people?
The influence of the online drugs market is a factor that’s been cited in both cases. Sites on the dark web (a part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines and is effectively hidden, accessible only using software like Tor ) allow users to buy almost any drug imaginable.
You might have heard of darknet drug markets in connection with news coverage of the demise of Silk Road and the arrest of its founder Ross Ulbricht . Despite several high profile law enforcement actions against these online markets, the dark web drugs industry is still going strong. One recent study estimates its yearly sales at over $100 million .
In addition to eliminating some of the traditional challenges associated with buying drugs (like risky face to face meet-ups), the dark web helps people find substances that are less common in their local area. LSD, for instance, isn’t always easy to get in the UK – but can now be ordered online from anywhere in the world. Even though the majority of young people won’t be using the dark web to purchase drugs themselves, their supplier might be, making LSD and ecstasy easier to find through street dealers or friends.
Some argue that online markets are making drug use safer as some sites allow buyers to review online suppliers. In theory this means that it would be harder to get away with selling impure or mislabelled substances, and users would have more control over what they’re taking. But this shouldn’t lull people into a false sense of security. Scams are still fairly commonplace on the dark web, and even if you do know exactly what you’re getting, no drug is risk-free.
Whether or not dark web markets are to blame, ecstasy and LSD are gaining popularity. So what should parents know about these two drugs?
 Anonymity software that makes it difficult to trace users’ online activity back to them.