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Behavioral Health

Observer Staff

3/20/2006 12:00:00 AM

One of the apparent newest venues for teenagers has actually been around for decades. It is currently called a pharming party. It is nothing more than a group of teen and/or adults getting together and trading/bartering for prescription medications. Of course, as one would expect, your non-generic is almost always going to be worth more than the generic version.

These parties are arranged while the parents are typically gone for the night. The kids get together and bring whatever they are able to get their hands on, whether that is Vicodin, Xanax, Ritalin, Oxycontin and many others. Almost any left over prescription will do, whatever may have been lying around their home or other family and friends homes.

While the use of marijuana, speed and heroin has declined over the past decade, the abuse of prescription medication has increased sharply for kids between the ages of 12 and 17. Kids can easily become addicted to anti-anxiety medications, painkillers, or attention-deficit disorder drugs. Taken without proper supervision, those medicines can send kids to the emergency room. They can lead to difficulty breathing, a drop or a rapid increase in heart rate, trouble responding when driving a car, especially when the drugs are combined with alcohol, as they most often are.

Unfortunately, prescription drugs are often far easier to obtain than illegal ones. Some teenagers come by their pills legitimately but trade them for others, like pain killers that hold more appeal because of their more potent high. Others order from shady internet pharmacies where prescriptions aren't always required. Other kids take advantage of their parents and the doctors by faking or exaggerating symptoms in order to persuade physicians to write prescriptions.

I also want to make it clear that this is not just a teenage problem. These pharming parties are becoming quite a popular alternative to baccalaureate parties. Although, at these types of parties the prescriptions seem to change slightly to include more anti-anxiety, mood stabilizers sexual stimulants and sleep aids.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, is this much different than what was going on decades ago? Such as during the 60's and early 70's when it appeared that most housewives were on Valium. Does anyone not think that they didn't trade/barter for prescriptions then? Did they not mix it with alcohol then?

The big difference now, the drugs are stronger, more dangerous, and the users are younger. Tips Towards Helping Your Child

-Watch your child for signs of changes in behavior, emotional, physical, mental;

-Talk to your child often;

-Know your child well and who they associate with;

-Keep all medication out of a child's reach;

-Always throw out medication when you are through using it, don't save it "just in case;"

-Don't assist them in having a party at a home you know nothing about or at a hotel when you don't know what is really going on; and

-Remember the child learns their drug/medication habits from you, from the time they are old enough to walk and talk. It's up to you to show them how big of a part medication will play in their life. Will it be used to cure, pacify or escape reality? The choice can be yours to make.

Not paying enough attention to your child could be the most regrettable thing that you do.