Former Buyer Exposes the Alarming Trend of Young People Using Animal Emojis as Code Words for Drug Consumption | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former Buyer Exposes the Alarming Trend of Young People Using Animal Emojis as Code Words for Drug Consumption

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Part of the actual transaction of buying and selling, Telegrams are being used.

“When I was selling drugs, my phone was ringing all day long. To me, it sounded like the sound of money, ‘Cha-ching, cha-ching.’ Every message was just a request to ‘please sell.’ I didn’t feel any guilt whatsoever. In fact, the more I sold, the more I felt appreciated, so I even thought ‘I’m helping people.'” 

So says A, who used to illegally buy and sell prescription drugs. Currently, what’s explosively spreading among the younger generation is the excessive consumption of pharmaceuticals, commonly known as “overdose (OD)”.

In reality, scenes of young people intoxicated on a mixture of over-the-counter cough medicine like Bron and strong alcohol occasionally surface on social media, garnering attention. But what’s even more prevalent is the silent overdose involving prescription drugs like Sairees. Those who have experienced overdose talk about its effects,

“Taking an excessive amount of Sairees puts you into an intoxicated state, and you basically lose your memory. When I used it, I sent acquaintances lines of unintelligible characters and made phone calls to friends without being able to speak coherently. Of course, at that time, I had no recollection of what I did at all.

Sairees is said to have the highest potential for creating a high among sleep medications due to its ingredients. However, this drug has also been abused as a date rape drug, easily disguised in drinks. Ironically, although originally colored blue to detect mixing, this coloring has become a trend among young people. They use the blue-tinted tongue, as a badge of honor from consumption, to strengthen a sense of camaraderie.”

Even in the medical field, the handling of potent drugs like Sairees is cautious, with many clinics explicitly stating they don’t prescribe it on the first visit. Obtaining an amount for overdose is not easy. This is where illegal buyers like A operate.


“The prescription drug enthusiasts aiming for OD purposes are referred to as the medication munching community, taken from internet slang. The sellers are collectively called pushers, pusher hands, or pusher-san, while the buyers are pullers, puller hands, in general.

I started as a buyer in the community a few years ago. At that time, I was also addicted to OD with prescription drugs and targeted the illegal business of prescription drugs because I wanted to make easy money. I had above-average knowledge of drugs and believed it would be profitable as a business,” says A.

A describes their sales method as being no different from the illegal drug transactions rampant on social media.

“First, I would open an account for buying and selling on X, post a list of prescription drugs along with contents tagged with slang like ‘#medicationmunching.’ If I received inquiries from users, I would guide them to Telegram, where I would receive specific orders. I also had my Telegram account posted in the profile section of X. Payments were made through PayPal or bank transfer. Once I confirmed the payment, I would put the drugs in a letter pack and send them to the specified address, completing the transaction.”

A number of prescription drugs Mr. A brought with him at the time of the interview

It goes without saying that the unauthorized buying and selling of prescription drugs is illegal. Therefore, various slang terms are used for transactions on social media. A reveals the reality of this,

“Medications are represented using specialized emojis or specific words. For example, in symbols, ‘(fox)’ represents Concerta, ‘(rhinoceros)’ represents Seroquel, and ‘(tiger)’ represents Flunitrazepam. In words, ‘dance’ is Myristin, ‘spring’ is Halcion, and ‘Lyrica’ is Lilica, and so on. It’s mostly wordplay or simple conversions.”

A’s account, utilizing such slang, quickly gained a large number of customers. At its peak, they received orders from over 900 people, and their monthly earnings reached as high as 5 million yen.

“The thing customers hate the most is being scammed. Since they hate not receiving the product after transferring money, when the product arrives, they would send photos with words like ‘I successfully purchased it’ to establish trust and share them with others. Additionally, I would consistently update the inventory status every morning. There were times when I sent out over 100 letter packs in a day.”

However, as the number of customers continued to increase, the challenge of procuring prescription drugs became a concern.

“The more orders I received, the more difficult it became to secure inventory. Until then, I would visit multiple clinics in a day to get prescriptions as a patient, but I couldn’t keep up. So, I started buying. I announced on social media, ‘I will buy medication,’ and purchased leftover or unused drugs for about half the price. People who were addicted tended to hoard drugs, so there were many who wanted to sell. Some even approached me with offers to ‘buy entire boxes.’ Cases are usually something only doctors, or perhaps senior nurses, can take out, not patients or regular nurses. From such individuals, I bought over 2 million yen worth of prescription drugs every month.”

With a plentiful stock due to the buying business, A’s clientele increased even more.

“The gender ratio of users is about 60% female and 40% male. About half of them are under 20, and the rest are over 30. There were repeat customers who spent over 300,000 yen per month. Shipping destinations were predominantly rural areas. In the countryside where there are fewer clinics, and rogue doctors who easily issue prescriptions are limited, people turn to the internet for access.

The most common purpose of purchase is for OD, but there were also some who wanted to use the prescription drugs properly. It’s terrifying that some customers explained, ‘I can’t sleep without Benzedrine.’ Benzedrine is such a powerful sleeping pill (currently discontinued) that it’s called a ‘drinkable restraint,’ and it takes years for the body to get used to it. There were also people who wanted to buy a large amount of drugs to commit suicide, of course, but I limited the number of drugs I sold.”

From such circumstances, A suddenly decides to quit being a buyer due to an incident; their own attempted suicide.

Emojis are used extensively and are bought and sold as if they were pop

“After experiencing a series of misfortunes in my personal life, I decided to take Labonal, a sleeping pill I had in stock, in an attempt to end my life. I was discovered midway through by an acquaintance and stopped, having consumed around 30 tablets. Despite this, it was still a sufficient amount to kill me, and I had already lost consciousness. I was immediately rushed to the hospital, and when I woke up, I found myself on a hospital bed.”

A barely survived by a hair’s breadth, but what they witnessed at the hospital was the harsh reality of the “Oyakumogumogu (pill-popping) world,” which is not visible on social media.

“Coincidentally, there was a woman admitted to the same hospital for overdosing on prescription drugs. Perhaps due to the side effects of excessive intake, at one point, she began to clutch her chest in agony while lying on the bed, and her heart stopped. Fortunately, the doctor who rushed to her side performed CPR, and she was saved. The moment she regained consciousness, she said, ‘That felt good~.’ I was truly at a loss for words. At the same time, I realized that this was what I was doing as a buyer.”

This incident prompted A to make the decision to graduate from being a buyer of prescription drugs. After being discharged, they deleted all their accounts and completely withdrew from the business.

“The incident at the hospital made me realize the enormity of what I had been selling, but it took a suicide attempt for me to finally understand. It’s shameful that I didn’t realize until I was on the verge of death, but what is being bought and sold illegally on social media is nothing less than poison disguised as prescription drugs. I agreed to this interview because I hoped it might change the situation even slightly.”


Finally, A sounds the alarm again about the reality of the “Oyakumogumogu (pill-popping) world.”

“In the future, overdosing on prescription drugs will spread rapidly, comparable to illegal drugs. That’s why we need to stop this trend now. Currently, in Japan, drugs that can easily kill people are being bought and sold on social media. And anyone can obtain this poison as long as they have a smartphone. I want as many people as possible to know about this reality.”

The trend of overdosing on prescription drugs, especially among young people, shows signs of spreading. We must once again recognize its dangers.

  • Interview and text Akira Tsuchioka

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