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A while ago, we did a couple pieces on how buying drugs online works. Now, one of the biggest players in the online drug market is shutting down. Yes, Atlantis is going under.

Sorry, couldn’t help it.

The site is stating it is shutting down due to security concerns. Although the site launched only six months ago, it had already developed a reputation for being a hotbed of police activity. Surprise, surprise…

Customers are being told to withdrawal their online currencies within the week, and those not withdrawn after that time will go to a “drug-related charity of [Atlantis’] choice.”

Of course, this was bound to happen. Everyone saw it from a mile away. As with the street dealer, there comes a time when the heat gets too hot, and either the towel is thrown in, or the police come knocking. As with the street dealer, too, whenever one is taken off the streets for whatever reason, someone is always there ready to take their place.

Like regular addicts as well, when the supply is taken away, new sources need to be found to maintain their addictions.

In some ways, Atlantis is a somewhat unique example of the evolving illegal online drug market. In its six short months of existence, it had become a highly visible brand pioneering a new method of dispersing their products. It was not nearly as big as its primary competitor, The Silk Road, but nevertheless, it had become the next biggest name, and when bringing in millions of dollars, that isn’t anything to casually dismiss.

Now, it is dead, and for the exact reasons that most people had expected. As long as drug addiction is alive and well (and it is), businesses like these are bound to continue popping up.

At the same time, this may prove to be the pattern that defines the emerging industry. Start an online drug market site, launch a marketing campaign, and shut it down shortly thereafter. Rinse and repeat.

The implications for practicing drug addicts are rather clear, but what does it mean for addicts and alcoholics in recovery?

As more people turn to the web to get drugs, they are also more likely to pursue addiction resources online as well. The very thing making purchasing drugs online is also one of the biggest attractions to getting recovery online: anonymity.

As they are understood now, online recovery meetings and more traditional 12 Step meetings are not much different. The initial, primary purpose of meetings was to help practicing alcoholics (and later, addicts) find a sponsor; recovery came from the interaction between the sponsor and sponsee, and not in meetings.

Of course, that has changed as time passed. Nevertheless, for better or worse, this can be a deciding factor as to whether or not an addict or alcoholic takes the next step, and physically investigates a meeting.

The big question remaining with regards to online black markets is how Atlantis’s closing changes the legal, economic, and health landscapes, and what it means to other sites, like The Silk Road. Regardless, a major player in the online drug market changes the game; it’s now just a question of how.

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