Study reveals high number of teens post drug-related images on social media


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A message from teens to parents, some adolescents say you might not know as much as you think about their social media. Students at an Albuquerque high school said their recent study revealed a surprising number of teens are exposed to illicit drug use on one certain site.

Sharing moments and having fun, it’s the first sentence on Snapchat’s rule page. Yet, despite the list of guidelines, some adolescents say…

“It’s more of, like, the dirtier social media,” said University of New Mexico freshman Matt Manicke and that’s without breaking any of the site’s rules.

“Snapchat’s like the one, you post stuff on there if you’re partying or something to show like, ‘hey! Look at me!’” Manicke explained.

Manicke says he sees it every day on his own Snapchat feed.

“This person’s drinking at a party or this person’s smoking weed,” said Manicke.

Now, he has data to prove just how prevalent drug-related Snapchats really are.

Manicke is one of several Sandia Prep students who conducted their own research study on adolescent illicit drug use and social media, specifically, Snapchat.

Their results revealed teens come across about two drug-related Snapchat stories a day.

Student researchers asked teens to open up their Snapchat stories then, describe each one, frame by frame. That includes how many people are there and what they’re doing.

“It was a lot of work,” said UNM Associate Professor Jennifer Hettema

Hettema says she worked with Sandia Prep’s Wellness Coordinator, Karen Lyall, and the students to help lay the foundation for the study.

“Concepts and research around adolescent health and teaching them some research methods,” said Hettema.

Yet, she says the students did the work themselves and for good reason.

“Kids might freak out if an adult was like, ‘hey, can you open your snapchat for me,” said Manicke.

It’s why he and Hettema say their results were likely extremely accurate and why they say parents should start paying better attention.

The students collected their data at retail and entertainment venues, like Cottonwood Mall and Domingo Baca Skate Park.

Most of the posts about illicit drug use were about marijuana. Manicke believes it’s because it’s becoming more widely accepted. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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