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Teen drug addiction statistics show prescription and over the counter drugs amongst teenagers are on the rise. Pharm parties, or pharmaceutical parties, have become popular with teens who abuse prescription drugs. Keep reading to learn the dangers of pharm parties.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, prescription drugs and over the counter drugs accounted for close to 25% of the drug related emergency room visits in 2004. This news represents a somewhat alarming trend in teenagers toward abusing prescription and over the counter drugs that are not illegal. A study by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America reported that close to 4.5 million teenagers take prescription drugs to get high each year.
This news can come as a shock to many. What might be even more shocking is the way teens are getting access to these drugs. They are attending what are called “pharm parties.”
What are pharm parties?
“Pharm” is short for “pharmaceutical”. Teenagers engaging in these activities are taking prescription and over the counter drugs, hoping to get high. In many cases, the teens dump their contributions to the party in a bowl with other offerings from party goers. Then it is just a matter of grabbing a handful of drugs and swallowing them to see what sort of effect the cocktail has. Reactions can range from a mild buzz to a full on high to an actual brush with death.
Many teenagers are actually getting their pills from home. It is relatively easy to go through the medicine cabinet to find a supply of pills. Some teenagers are fairly reckless, taking whole bottles out of the medicine cabinet. Others are more cautious, thoughtfully taking only two or three pills from each of the different containers in the medicine cabinet. The process of looking for pills around the house is called “pharming.” The most prized pills are prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Adderall and Ritalin. However, over the counter cold capsules, pain relievers and even some herbal supplements can also be brought. Part of the interest that teens have is the “surprise” of seeing what happens with different drug combinations.
Deceptive danger of pharm parties
One of the biggest problems with pharm parties is their deceptive nature. Many teenagers do not realize that these drugs can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs. They are laboring under the illusion that prescription and over the counter drugs are somehow “safer” than illegal street drugs. However, there are a number of dangers hidden at pharm parties.
First of all, mixing medication without knowing what it is likely to do to you can be dangerous. There are a number of different types of drugs that should not be taken together. The way the chemicals react when brought together in the body can be quite dangerous, and it can risk someone’s health. It can result in an emergency room visit, and even death.
Another problem with pharm parties is some of the compounds in different drugs can cause allergic reactions. Many of the teenagers who attend these parties have no idea what is in the bowl. Many “recipes” for pill combinations consist of naming colors. You have no idea of the dosing, the potency or any other information. If you have an allergy to a certain type of medication, and it happens to be in the cocktail you grab, the results can be deadly. And, of course, things can become even worse when alcohol is involved, since many medications should not be mixed with alcohol.
Addiction can actually happen as well. Many controlled substances cause an addiction, and a withdrawal. The same thing can happen with prescription and over the counter drugs. Teenagers can become addicted if they get used to these pharm parties. Pretty soon the body needs more and more of the same compound in order to get the same effect, and the body may even come to rely on the drugs. This can become a serious problem that begins to damage one’s vital organs, and cause other problems.
Finally, another problem is the veneer of respectability that comes with prescription and over the counter drugs. These are things you get at the store, and find at your home. They do not seem illicit or dangerous. Additionally, because we are a society that has accepted medication as a solution to many problems, it seems like a natural step and progression to use medication to have a good time.
Paying attention to prescription drug use
While it is important to warn teens about the dangers of illegal drugs, it is also important not to neglect prescription and over the counter drugs. Parents should be aware of pharm parties, and they should begin talking with their children at an early age about the dangers of abusing painkillers and over the counter drugs, as well as warning about the dangers of pharm parties.
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