Teens: Prescription Drugs & 'Pharm' Parties

1:12 PM, Dec 11, 2007   |    comments
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2007 Emmy Winner: Children, Youth, Teens
Isabel Mascareñas, Gene Yeagle

Treasure Island, Florida - Drug trends among teenagers are constantly changing. Next time your kids head to a party, marijuana and cocaine may not be the concern, but legal prescription drugs.

At these so-called "pharm parties," which is short for pharmaceutical parties, teens will blindly try different drugs.

J.B., is 21 and he doesn't want his last name used. He entered the Gulf Coast Recovery program on Treasure Island in January after spending the last five years addicted to prescription drugs.

J.B. says the cycle of addiction began at 16 after he broke his wrist lifting weights. The doctors prescribed oxyContin and soon J.B. says he got hooked. When the doctors cut his medication, J.B. says he turned to what he could find or buy.

“Morphine, Phetnol, Vicodin, Percoset... Roxicontin… At my lowest I was taking four to five... 80 milligrams a day. There was a sense it seemed all right, it was prescribed by a doctor and wasn't a street drug. At the point I was cut off by the doctors, I was spending close to 2 to 300 dollars a day for my addiction.”

JB turned to the streets, to friends and pharm parties to feed his drug habit.

“I would relay it to a flea market for drugs, somewhere to go exchange, trade and buy and purchase different drugs.”

At pharm parties, people will mix prescription drugs in a bowl, then randomly pop pills and play Russian roulette with their lives to get high. JB says he tried it once.

“Looking back it was naive and foolish on my part putting something in my body and I not know the source.”
Dianne Allen, MA, CAP, Gulf Coast Recovery
“It can stop their heart, their breathing.”

Drug rehab expert Dianne Allen says kids think pharm parties are safe, because the drugs come from a doctor.

“Bright, talented, gifted people die because they take combination of things don't know no body knows what they're taking so if you rush them to the emergency room doctor says what did they take and the answer is… I don't know.”

The number of college students abusing prescription drugs rose more than 300 percent since 1993.

In fact according to a new survey, one in 10 teenage girls and one in 13 boys used prescription drugs to get high in the last year.

“It alters their liver function, destroys their bones, their muscles... their ability to think.”

With help from his family, J.B. broke the cycle of addiction three months ago.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Allen says J.B. has turned his life around in just the few months he's been at Gulf Coast Recovery undergoing drug rehab.

“It involves a holistic program he goes to the gym, works out, does yoga and he's now working. He's doing things that add to a well balanced healthy lifestyle. JB has struck a balance he has a job is sober and is finishing college."
“Five years ago I had no hope for life, no desire to fulfill my goals. Now I feel a sense of well being of accomplishment that things can get better with time.”

Drug Rehab expert Dianne Allen says someone who is addicted to prescription drugs needs medical supervision to get sober or they could die if they go into withdraw alone.

“That levels of sickness from opiate withdraw is probably the worst sickness ever imagined. It's the flu times 100 because opiates affects the bones every bone in the body hurts beyond any measure we can understand.”

Allen says parents should not excuse a teen's isolation or strange behavior as a phase she says it most likely is a sign begging for help.


Isabel Mascareñas, Tampa Bay's 10 News

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