Dundee’s recovery community is being “pushed to the brink” by relentless online dealers using social media to flood the city with illegal drugs.
It was revealed how online scammers have been abusing Facebook’s site algorithms to target Tayside’s former drug users and rake in thousands of pounds with hollow promises of cheap pills for cash.
However, an investigation has found hundreds of current and former users across the region have been contacted on social media with legitimate offers to exchange tablets for money or bitcoin transfers.
The Courier has also seen evidence of individuals carrying out sophisticated drug running operations into the city online, with as many as 5,000 pills – holding a street value of around £700 – being ordered at a time.
The booming operation has reportedly seen the city “flooded” with illegal substances as dealers aim to avoid the costs and risks of transporting the drugs in person.
One local woman, who is in the early stages of recovery, revealed a dealer on her own street had been receiving packages of pills ordered online.
She said she had also been repeatedly contacted by individuals who appeared to have sought her out on social media via old friends and contacts with a history of substance misuse.
“I’ve been approached three times in four weeks and again this weekend by different profiles, all with no personal pictures and all offering any type of drugs you could possibly want,” she said.
“It definitely feels like they’re targeting people in recovery. When you’re having a low day it can be exactly the excuse you need to go and use – you can see how it could push someone over the edge.
“It’s like you’re not even safe in your own home anymore; you’re not even safe from it when you close the front door, they’re still trying to get you.”
Sharon Brand from Recovery Dundee, a group that supports former drug users, said she “knows for sure” the practice has had a direct effect on people in Dundee trying to give up illegal substances and claimed things are getting worse.
“I know that it has had a major impact – people who are struggling to cope are being contacted directly on their mobile phones and they are being pushed to the brink,” she said.
“It’s absolutely shameful. Drug users have been demonised for years and looked on as easy prey but these are some of the most vulnerable people in our city and they need our help.”
It has emerged that a number of profiles highlighted to Facebook by campaigners were left to carry on unchallenged, while some suspended individuals were able to set up new profiles just days after being shut down.
A spokesman for the social network said they take the matter “extremely seriously” and would “continue to improve our reporting and take-down process”.
He added: “Buying, selling, or trading illegal or prescription-only drugs is strictly prohibited on Facebook.”