Tuesday, November 28, 2006
7 News Features: Pill Parties
Teenagers testing the limits is nothing new. But instead of getting drunk, many kids today are raiding medicine cabinets and popping prescriptions with their friends. In tonight's Special Assignment Report, we found pill parties are giving some families a deadly dose of reality.
WSVN -- It's the latest prescription for a killer party.
Nick Levine: "Valium and Klonopin and Xanax."
Forget B.Y.O.B. For many kids these days, it's "B.Y.O.P. -- bring your own pills."
Nick Levine: "People used to raid parents' liquor cabinets and get alcohol. Now, kids raid parents' medicine cabinets."
Pharmaceutical parties, or "pharm parties," are the latest way for kids to get high. The party favors are pills they've stolen from their parents medicine cabinets.
Jasmine: "To get in, you had to bring your own pills. If you didn't, you couldn't get in."
But once you're in, all the different pills are dumped into a pile or bowl. This is something kids call 'trail mix'.
Jasmine: "We put it on the table and just mixed it up. Whatever you got is what you got."
And what kids get are fistfuls of pills, usually chased down with alcohol.
Jasmine: "A lot of beers, a lot of alcohol, a lot of marijuana, a lot of people smoking weed and popping pills."
Barbara Zohlman: "The combo of the trail mix of drugs with the alcohol is a recipe for disaster."
A recipe doctors say can cause a person to have seizures or even temporarily stop breathing, which can cause permanent brain damage.
And sometimes, just one wrong pill can create a deadly dose.
Dr. Deanna Soloway: "If those medications are used in abnormal doses or for other indications, especially if kids have other medical problems or are taking other medications, they can die. So within hours, if you do not get medical help, you could die."
The party ended way too soon for Maureen Barrett's son, Drew.
During his senior year of college, he found a doctor to write his friends and him as many prescriptions as they needed.
Maureen Barrett: "At his apartment, there were plenty of pill parties. They would come back with 500 pills and say, 'Hey have at it. Mix, match whatever you want to do.'"
But one night, all that mixing and matching became too much for Drew.
His parents found him dead in his bed with this basket of pills by his side.
Maureen Barrett: "Methadone, Soma and Xanax. So, he just took a little bit too much. It wasn't an extreme amount, but it was just a little bit over the lethal amount. He just went to sleep and never woke up."
Don't think it couldn't happen to your child.
According to a 2005 survey, nearly one in five teenagers reported trying prescription drugs to get high. That's why experts say parents have to police their prescriptions.
Barbara Zolman: "Know how many pills you have in there, know how many are left in the bottle. Make sure your child knows that you know."
Also, go through your medicine cabinet and toss out any left-over or expired pills.
If your child is on a certain medication, make sure they can account for all of it. Monitor the internet.
Barbara Zohlman: "The internet is a great way for kids to get prescription drugs. I mean, they are just very available to them."
The days of pill parties are over for Nick and Jasmine. Fighting a drug addiction is still a struggle for them.
Nick: "It's still a daily thing, something I deal with everyday."
Jasmine: "You have to wake up somewhere, and I woke up. And I definitely want to stay awake."
But Maureen won't ever wake up from the nightmare of losing her son.
Maureen: "What it's done to our family is just incredible. It's an incredible loss that you never forget."
Many of our local emergency room doctors have seen an increase of teenage prescription drug overdoses within the last couple of years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Drug Free Youth In Town