Dr. Laura Berman says son died of overdose on drugs bought on social media

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Doctor says son died of overdose after getting drugs through social media
Dr. Laura Berman is issuing a warning after she said her teenage son died of an overdose after buying drugs through social media.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dr. Laura Berman, always willing to share advice with Chicagoans, is now sharing the most painful advice from her own experience.

On Sunday afternoon, she found her 16-year-old son on his bedroom floor in their home in California. He was a good student, applying to college and preparing for a summer internship. He was well-liked by friends in Chicago and his California town.

He could not be revived by paramedics.

"He was always researching things and exploring things, and was unbelievably sweet, and kind, and full of dreams," she said.

Berman said she was told he appeared to have died from a fentanyl overdose. She believes the drugs were bought through a dealer on Snapchat.

Berman said her son's friend share that Sammy met someone on the social media app to buy what he thought were prescription drugs. Santa Monica police are investigating, and would only say a preliminary investigation has led them to believe prescription drug use may have been involved.

"I wanted people to know that those 'innocent experimental things' you may be doing may be likely, because they seem to be everywhere, laced with fentanyl, which they do to get you addicted," Dr. Berman said.

FULL INTERVIEW: Dr. Berman on losing her son, what parents should know

Dr. Laura Berman sat down with ABC7 Chicago's Leah Hope to discuss losing her son to a drug overdose and what she wants other parents to know to help them and their kids.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said they actively investigate drug trafficking in various methods, including online through social media, websites and the dark web, and said "many illegal substances market online contain deadly fentanyl."

Berman said her previous concerns about Snapchat had been centered on inappropriate photos, not drug use. She said even though their children may be getting older, parents should still ask for their passwords and monitor their online and social media activity for their safety.

While Berman and her family grieve and wait for test results, she wanted to warn other families.

"I want parents to know to talk to your kids, that things they are going to get from a drug dealer are not safe and might very well kill them," she said. "And if I can help one child not die, that helps my heart."

Berman said she and her family are grateful for the support of their friends, family and communities, and from other grieving parents who have reached out to her.

She has started a Facebook page for her and families who have lost a child to drug overdose.

Full statement from Snapchat

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Samuel Berman Chapman and we are heartbroken by his passing.

"We are committed to working together with law enforcement in this case and in all instances where Snapchat is used for illegal purposes. We have zero tolerance for using Snapchat to buy or sell illegal drugs. Using Snapchat for illegal purposes is firmly against our community guidelines and we enforce against these violations. We are constantly improving our technological capabilities to detect drug-related activity so that we can intervene proactively. If you witness illegal behavior on Snapchat, please use our in-app tools to report it quickly and confidentially, so we can take action.

"We have no higher priority than keeping Snapchat a safe environment and we will continue to invest in protecting our community.

Full statement from the DEA

"The Drug Enforcement Administration actively investigates various methods of drug trafficking, including online through websites, social media platforms and the dark net. DEA Chicago, through cyber investigations, is committed to disrupting and dismantling drug networks that exploit the Internet to distribute illegal drugs, including fraudulent and counterfeit prescription drugs - to adults and children, alike. Many illegal substances marketed online contain deadly fentanyl - which is 50 times stronger than heroin, and potentially lethal in doses of 2.5 milligrams.

DEA encourages parents and caregivers to talk with their children about the dangers of drug abuse and the misuse of prescription drugs, emphasizing the immediate potential of overdose death.

Tips about websites or individuals selling drugs via social media may be shared anonymously to dea.gov/submit-tip."