Teenagers Throwing "Pharm" Parties - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Teenagers Throwing "Pharm" Parties

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In tonight's HealthierMe: toga parties, blacklight parties, ...and now, "pharm" parties?

Short for "pharmaceuticals," a pharm party involves kids abusing purchased or stolen pharmaceutical drugs, often in combination with other drugs like alcohol and marijuana, and, says addiction psychiatrist Dr. Neil Capretto, "It's extremely dangerous. I mean, it's like literally playing Russian roulette."

It's not that pharm parties are new -- but it's a name that Dr. Capretto is starting to hear more often.

He says when you start mixing drugs, you can get a lethal combination. "There was a young girl in our community recently. [She] was at a party and took two pills... didn't know what they were," Dr. Capretto says. "They were two 80 mg of Oxycontin. That's equal to 36 Percocets at one time."

A recent study showed that 20% of teens will have tried prescription drugs by the time they graduate.

"My mom was in surgery and we had some pills around the house, so I took those," says one unidentified addict and patient, who popped his first painkiller when was just 14 years old. "For opiates, I used to do a Perk 30 or an Oxy 5. I was doing that at least once a day."

"I tell parents treat narcotic medicine like it's a loaded gun," warns Dr. Capretto, "because actually more people die in your community from overdosing on prescription medicines than do from homicides and traffic fatalities."

Addiction doesn't discriminate, and it is in no way limited to low-income families -- the patient we interviewed grew up in an affluent suburb -- and that's why Dr. Capretto says parent need to be involved in their child's life.

"Keep your radar on," he tells them. "This is too important. The life of your child depends on this."

Doctors say it's crucial for parents to be involved in their children's lives and keep a close eye on their behavior.


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