The Truth About Pharm Parties
You may have heard the recent buzz about the term ‘Pharm Parties', which refers to a party where kids pilfer through Mom and Dad's medicine cabinet for any prescription medicines and then take them to a party to share with friends. Pharm is short for pharmaceuticals, not farm like the place where we used to sneak off with a keg of beer. While these parties were dangerous enough, today's teens have done us one better.
Is There Really Such A Thing as a Pharm Party?
There is some debate as to whether kids themselves are referring to these parties with the term Pharm Party, or if that is a media invention. The truth is that kids today have greater access to prescription medications than ever before simply because of the fact that these drugs are more widely available to the general public for whatever ails.
There have been several reports in the last few years of teen parties where kids consume handfuls of drugs without knowing what they're taking. Drug counselors across the country are now communicating with each other that these pill parties are becoming more prevalent in their local areas.
Supposedly the bowls and baggies of assorted drugs are referred to as trail mix. When kids take prescription drugs from home it's called pharming. The practice is sending kids to emergency rooms in record numbers suffering from deadly combinations of prescription medicines.
It’s Just Prescription Pills
Kids don't realize how dangerous the drugs are because they are not illegal and are prescribed by a doctor. In addition to widespread availability and ignorance, these kids have to contend with celebrity drug use portrayed in the media as normal coming of age behavior for young and beautiful people. Kids have this idea that prescription drugs represent an acceptable form of escape without the stigma of street drugs. And of course, they want to share.
As if it's not bad enough that kids are taking these drugs, the latest trend it seems is to combine them into ever more lethal concoctions. See this frightening article on prescription drug recipes.
Prescription Drugs Are Widely Available
Kids today can get their hands on practically anything. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America did a survey in 2005 that revealed 19% of U.S. teenagers (about 4.5 million) had taken prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, or painkillers Vicodin and OxyContin for the purpose of getting high. According to a University of Michigan study, Vicodin and OxyContin are now more popular among high school seniors than cocaine and Ecstasy, beat out only by marijuana.
Prescription Drug Use Not Just For Getting High
Kids are using prescription drugs for more than getting high. Kids are using stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall, that are legitimately used to treat attention disorders, to get an edge in testing or other academic work. And other kids are taking Xanax or other anxiety reducing drugs to self-treat their own anxiety or depression without medical supervision. They figure how bad could it be? It makes them feel better so they do it.
It's crucial for parents to be vigilant as well as to take a hard line. Kids can turn quickly from marijuana and beer to the greater high offered by strong painkillers. From there it's a hop, skip, and jump to heroin. Any of these harder drugs can hook kids the very first time - even if they take it by accident, something quite likely once they begin partying with fellow drug takers. Once they get into a situation where judgment is compromised, anything can happen.
A New Attitude About Medicine
The big drug companies aren't helping. Pretty advertising is affecting kids' attitudes toward drugs. When my eight-year-old asks for medicine when he can't fall asleep because he has seen the commercial with the pretty butterfly, I have an issue. It's just one more reason we need to monitor what kids are exposed to and make sure we're adding our parental two-cents to the messages they receive.
Teach your kids from an early age that medicine is not the answer to their problems. Set an example. Expect them to check with you before accepting any food, drink, candy, anything - from anyone. And then pray your child has enough luck and sense to stay away from drugs.