Since the beginning of the modern era, teenagers have been exposed to things that didn’t exist when their parents were younger. Whether it be certain types of music, technology or any number of pop culture trends, teens are more likely to experiment than their elders. That’s the natural course of life. Unfortunately, experimenting can sometimes take teens down a risky path.
Skittles Parties, named after the brightly colored, chewy candies, are a new and dangerous trend currently making headlines. Sometimes referred to as “pharm” or “pharming parties,” kids pool together whatever prescription or over the counter drugs they’ve managed to find or buy and put them in a bowl for party-goers to use, often along with alcohol.
In the United States, an estimated 2,500 kids abuse a prescription drug every single day, according to the Foundation For a Drug-Free World. Prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuana use among adolescents. Research has shown that prescription pills can be bought cheaper than other drugs, like cocaine or methamphetamine, and easily stolen out of medicine cabinets.
What Are the Most Abused Prescription Medications?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most commonly abused prescription medications include:
Opioids – these include drugs which have a similar chemical makeup to heroin, like OxyContin, Vicodin, hydrocodone, methadone and codeine
Benzodiazepines – central nervous stimulants normally used as sedatives and include drugs such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan
Amphetamine – these drugs, often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD) can be Adderall and Ritalin
There’s evidence that teenagers whose parents speak openly and voice their disapproval of drug usage of any kind are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Without the right education, adolescents might feel that over the counter or prescription drugs aren’t as dangerous because a doctor prescribed them.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune about prescription drugs among teens, Dr. Laura Markley, a pediatrics and child psychiatry specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, said, “I think they get a false sense of security and think it’s not as bad as marijuana or cocaine. And if a doctor says it’s OK, how could it possibly kill me?”
What Are the Health Risks for Teens Who Attend Skittles Parties?
Fatal overdose is the most serious consequence. First responders and emergency healthcare providers are often trying to save a user’s life without knowledge of the kinds or amounts of drugs a teen has ingested. Drug interactions and side effects are compounded. Over the counter and prescription drugs can have worse side effects when mixed with other chemicals, such as alcohol or competing compounds in other drugs. This can lead to all sorts of dangerous physical reactions such as high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, hyperthermia and loss of consciousness.
Sexual assault is a very real danger among adolescents. Being unconscious or incapacitated among a large group of people is never safe. Addiction is yet another disease that teens are vulnerable to if they frequently use alcohol or other drugs. Because their brains are still developing, even a small amount of drugs can permanently damage the brains chemical makeup.
Abstaining from drugs and alcohol is the safest choice for teens. However, if experimentation has led to trouble at home or school, caused depression, anxiety or even addiction, early intervention and treatment have been effective in helping adolescents make better choices and lead sober, healthy lives.