Pharm Parties: Teens getting high on prescription drugs -


Pharm Parties: Teens getting high on prescription drugs

There is a disturbing new party trend. Teens are filling bowls with illegally obtained prescription drugs before eating them like candy. It's all for amusement—but this reckless and risky behavior can have serious health consequences.

A recent study at the University of Colorado Denver found that today's teens are abusing drugs at a rate 40 percent higher than previous generations. And in many cases, these drugs are pilfered from their own homes and shared at "pharm parties" – where impulsive teenagers get together to exchange prescription pharmaceuticals like Vicodin, Oxycodone, Ritalin, Adderall and Valium.

Psychologist Lyndsay Elliott specializes in teen addiction. She says "The kids go to parties, they grab whatever they can out of their own medicine cabinet or out of their parents medicine cabinet, and then they're just taking it, not really knowing exactly what they're taking. Parents should be concerned about this because the kids do not know what they're taking and they're mixing it with alcohol, which can turn into a very deadly combination."

Alcohol doesn't have to be part of the mix for it to be lethal.  Hans Lang was partying with friends when he died from an overdose of prescription drugs alone.

Sonsee Cunningham says, "When I got to the hospital, his three friends were standing in the corner.  And they were crying, and I just sat there with him.  Holding his hand. And I know if he could, he would take it back. But I think he thought he was invincible."

Nicholus Alu was 14-years-old when he attended his first and last pharm party. He explains, "The pharm parties were so common, I was invited to five in a month." Nick was skeptical about doing it because no one knew what he or she was taking. He says to go along with the crowd, he grabbed a pill from the jar and pretended to swallow and while everyone else lost control, he remained a sober witness.

"I saw a lot of people freaking out. They didn't care where they were or what they were doing. It was the foreplay. The intercourse happened right out in the open," he says. 

Dr. Elliott says it's important to give teens strategies to help them withstand the peer pressure they get to participate in these parties. "As a parent, you want to empower your child. So you want to give them outs like ‘My parents are going to drug test me when I get home tonight, so I can't do that,'" she says. 

Remember – prescription drug abuse among teens today is at an all-time high, so inventory all prescription meds in your home and monitor their use. Dispose of old medication at community drug-take back program or destroy it by crushing and mixing with coffee grounds. If you have or know a teenager, warn them of the dangers and strategize ways to resist peer pressure. Taking the time to do that could prevent another senseless pharm party fatality.

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