Pharming: a new threat to youth

Teenagers are abusing prescription drugs at a higher level than just a few years ago. Just as many teens get their alcohol from their parents, they are also getting prescription drugs from their parents. "Pharming," short for pharmaceutical parties or prescription drug parties, is becoming more common.

As our larger culture ages, pain medicines are used more frequently in the home. Typically, young people are not in need of pain medications other than for the occasional accident or medical procedure. They don't have arthritis, sore joints, lower back pain or neck pain, all fairly common maladies that confront large numbers of adults. Pain management is often aimed at people that are out of their teens and the medications that address chronic pain are often abused by teens and twenty-something's at "pharming parties."

Adding to the danger of abusing prescription drugs is that many young people are consuming alcohol at the same time. Alcohol can act with prescription drugs to produce sometimes fatal results. A number of high profile celebrity deaths punctuate the threat of mixing prescribed medications with other drugs or alcohol. Marilyn Monroe's, Heath Ledger's and Michael Jackson's deaths probably resulted from a mixture of prescribed medications with other drugs or alcohol.

According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, abuses of prescription medications are so widespread that their use is "normalized" among youth. Nearly one in five youth now report using prescription medications to get high. Two in five teens reported that the use of prescription drugs was safer than illicit drug use. Far too many teens have a false sense of security when it comes to prescription drug use. One third of teens reported that using prescription drugs to get high once in a while is safe or OK. Two thirds of prescription abusing teens reported that they easily got prescription medications from their parents' medicine cabinets. Youth report that some medications are available through the internet with its loosely defined restrictions.

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