There’s no doubt that prescription medications are rapidly becoming a teen’s drug of choice. Kids tend to think of prescription medications as safer than illegal drugs because a doctor prescribes them.
This sense of safety may be the root of a disturbing new trend called “pharm parties.” Pharm is short for pharmaceuticals, or prescription drugs. At a pharm party, teens bring prescription drugs taken from their parents’ medicine cabinets or purchased online, where they end up pooled in a bowl at the center of the table. Popular pharm drugs include stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine; pain relievers such as Oxycontin or Codeine; and sedatives and tranquilizers.
Teens at a pharm party reach into the bowl and grab a few – or several – pills. The idea is to experiment with what effects the mixture will have.
Unfortunately, the effects may be deadly. When prescription medications are separated from the bottles, there’s no warning label that indicates how many to take or what other drugs or foods should not be taken with a certain medication. And the result of mixing such medications randomly can result in an emergency room visit, or even death.
What To Do
It’s important to be aware of what pharm parties are and which drugs are commonly brought to these gatherings. Talk to your teen about the problem and warn him that prescription drugs can be as dangerous as illegal street drugs, especially when taken in combination with other drugs or alcohol.
Make sure to monitor computer use, too. Computers should be in open areas such as the living room, and parents should oversee online activities.
Keep medications such as pain relievers, sedatives, and tranquilizers locked up so they aren’t accessible to your teen. And if your child has a prescription for a medication such as a stimulant drug, explain the risks of sharing it – someone could get hurt by taking a medication that isn’t prescribed for him.