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DEA: Drug dealers resorting to social media, emojis to advertise, sell counterfeit pills

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MID-MICHIGAN, Mich. (WJRT) - The Detroit Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration is seeing a substantial increase in the amount of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine coming into the U.S.

The rise of fentanyl and meth use is unfortunately nothing new, but what is new is how these pills are being marketed and sold. 

An official from the Detroit Field Division of the DEA helped explain this. A Mid-Michigan recovery coach said there need to be more done to fight addiction and also end the stigma associated with it.

Methamphetamine and fentanyl are two illicit drugs that have and continue to wreak havoc on communities across the country. What's alarming about these two drugs are the efforts behind getting them into counterfeit pills.

"Counterfeit pills are designed by these drug trafficking organizations to mimic the real thing, and not even the DEA or agent can use his eyes to determine if this is a real pill. They have to be sent to a lab," said Brian McNeal, spokesman for the Detroit Field Division of the DEA.

Certainly, people have their ways of getting their drug fixes or what people think they're getting. The DEA said that in some cases, it's literally as easy as being on social media.

"They're using these emojis on social media. These short form social media videos on social media platforms to advertise these drugs. The buyer is using the code, and then the seller is also using emoji codes to let them know these drugs are available," said McNeal. 

Denise Terryah is a recovery coach at the Flint Odyssey House and is also clean of fentanyl going on 11 years. What's happening with fentanyl, meth and other drugs right now comes as no surprise to her, she sees what it's doing to people every day.

"They'll tell us what they're positive for and what they've been using. Heroin, meth, cocaine, marijuana -- and almost always something is laced with fentanyl, and they're shocked when you tell them," said Terryah. 

She said that it's literally like a game of Russian Roulette.

"When they're getting something from their dealer, they have no idea what they're getting. None. That's the scary part," she said. 

That solution is not in a pill bottle, it's not an injection and it's not inside a bottle of booze. Terryah said that it literally starts at the dinner table of every household in this country.

She said talking about addiction, talking about drugs, talking about treatment can help end the stigma of it all and get people on a much better, healthier and sober life going forward.