As long as there have been substances to abuse, young people have been at the forefront of finding creative ways to ingest them. The newest trend is called “Skittles parties.” This has nothing to do with the colorful candies kids like to eat. Rather, it refers to a party where young people fill a bowl with various prescription pills in different colors.
Participating in one of these parties means grabbing one or more of the unidentified pills and chasing them down, often with alcohol. This is beyond deadly.
Many of the kids are taking the meds from their own homes. Mom or grandma may have been prescribed opiates such as oxycodone or hydrocodone after an injury or surgery. Baby brother may have a prescription for a stimulant such as Ritalin. Other popular pills at these parties are “benzos,” or benzodiazepines. These meds are often prescribed for anxiety-related issues and have a calming effect.
Opiates and benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system and can hamper breathing, especially when misused or abused. Combine either or both with alcohol and it’s a recipe for death. Alcohol also depresses the breathing function.
Here are some commonsense tips to help protect the loved ones in your life:
- Always keep an open line of communication. Young people and teens may be more open about what’s going on at school and at parties if you regularly communicate with them.
- Establish trust. Let your sons and daughters know you trust them to make the right decisions and that they can trust you for the same.
- Monitor all prescription medications and alcohol you bring into the house. It’s easy to forget how many pills are left in unsecured bottles, so one or two missing pills may go unnoticed. Lockboxes are never a bad idea.
- Know where your children are going and don’t be afraid to check-in.
- Know who your children are hanging out with.
- Meet the parents of your children’s friends and stay in contact with them.
Pay Close Attention To Your Kids And Share Information
Knowing the signs of prescription pill use or abuse can also save lives. Pay attention to changes, however subtle, in behavior, appearance, mood, friends and sleeping habits. If your child has a job, open a joint account that can be monitored by a parent. Teenage moodiness is fairly common, but don’t blow it off. If your son or daughter is more moody than usual, start asking questions.
It takes a whole community to prevent misuse, abuse and accidental deaths related to prescription pills and alcohol. Oftentimes, young people assume that the meds that come from a doctor are somehow safer, even when abused. Unintentional overdoses are happening all around us, in every community. Pay attention to the trends and don’t be afraid of scaring your kids – arm them with information and you just may save their lives.