What is a pharm party? Well, that depends who you ask. According to some news sources, a pharm party (AKA pill party or skittles party) is a gathering when people, usually young adults, bring various prescription drugs to share. The pills are then mixed into a bowl where everyone can take as much as they like and get high.
Understandably, this image inspires a lot of fear, particularly for parents who worry about their children abusing prescription drugs. If you’re worried about your children abusing unused prescription medications or if you just have questions about prescription drug abuse, keep reading for answers.
Are Pharm Parties Real?
The first report of a pharm party comes from a USA Today article in 2006, when a teenager was caught with prescription drugs and claimed to be going to a pharm party. In the article, various community leaders and parents confirm that there are parties where children bring prescription pills and share them freely. The story gained widespread attention, and soon other communities started reporting on local pharm parties.
Fortunately, no evidence to confirm these stories has ever been found. True, children do sometimes misuse prescription drugs. And true, these children may share their drugs with friends and get high together. However, nobody has ever seen a “pill party” where children brought prescriptions and mixed them up in a bowl to take at random. And when pressed for details, people who supported the idea of pharm parties could only talk about vague “trends in the youth” and “changes in the culture,” none of which equate to solid, quantifiable facts.
So that’s great news: Pharm parties are not real! However, the issue of youth prescription drug misuse is still very present. In 2019, 14.6 percent of teens reported misusing prescription drugs in the past year. While that was slightly down from years past (16.5 percent in 2017), that means that more than one in 10 teens are misusing prescription drugs.
And this problem isn’t exclusive to children, either. Adults ages 18-25 reported even higher drug abuse rates, with 14.4 percent abusing prescription drugs in the past year alone. Not only is this dangerous in the short term, but casually misusing prescription drugs is usually how prescription drug addiction starts. And even without pharm parties, prescription drug addiction poses some serious health risks.
Why Is Abusing Prescription Drugs Dangerous?
Prescription drugs are often seen as safer because they are legal medications. And in some ways, that’s true. Unlike drugs you might find on the street, prescription drugs have clearly labeled dosages and you know exactly what you’re taking. In several key ways, however, this fails to make prescription drug abuse safe:
- The fact that prescription drugs seem safe is actually a danger in itself. When people feel comfortable experimenting, it’s easy to take higher and higher doses because you’re not worried about your drugs being laced. This can lead to a higher physical tolerance, which in turn leads to taking more prescription drugs. Not only does this increase your risk of overdose, but it can create a serious new problem, detailed below.
- Prescription drug abuse does not always stop at prescriptions. If you’re taking an opioid painkiller like OxyContin, then you can take it for a while, until your tolerance is high and you need a lot of the drug to get high. But eventually, your health care provider is likely to stop prescribing, or they will be unwilling to prescribe in the amounts that you now want the drug. For many people, this leads them to turn to street opioids like heroin, fentanyl, or various synthetic opioids.
- It can be easy to think that you’ll draw the line at prescription drugs, but addiction doesn’t let you choose like that. At the point where people turn to heroin and synthetic opioids, their physical dependence is so severe that they are no longer taking drugs to get high: They’re taking drugs to stop being sick from opioid withdrawals. That means that “drawing a line” is all but impossible for them unless they seek professional help.
As you can see, prescription drug abuse is a dangerous thing. But the good news is that nobody is too far gone for recovery, and starting today is always better than starting tomorrow.
What Can a Prescription Drug Rehab Do?
A certified prescription drug rehab can offer many advantages in your recovery. First and foremost, a medically supervised detox is the best way to begin recovery from prescription drugs. Not only will your vitals and comfort level be monitored 24/7, but you may receive medication-assisted treatment to minimize your withdrawals and keep you safe during this vulnerable period in your recovery.
Of course, detox only helps stop physical addiction, and substance use disorders run much deeper than that. For many individuals, mental health concerns co-occur with addiction, where each issue worsens the other. In cases like this, dual diagnosis programming is a perfect blend of the traditional rehab experience and treatment of co-occurring mental health issues. Some dual diagnosis treatment options include:
- Group therapy
- 12-step programming
- Medication management
- Recreational therapy
- Relapse prevention counseling
If inpatient dual diagnosis treatment teaches you how to start recovery, partial hospitalization programs help you put those plans into action. This outpatient program will have you living at home and continuing addiction treatment at our Florida rehab center. During this time, you will receive continued support and real tips on how to take relapse prevention strategies and apply them to your daily life. In this way, you can give yourself the best chance at recovering from prescription drug addiction.
At The Blackberry Center in St. Cloud, Florida, we know that addiction recovery never really ends. And neither does our support. We provide alumni services that will give you continued support throughout the rest of your recovery journey. Because we’re not just here to help you stay drug-free for a week or a month or a year. We’re here to help you achieve lifelong recovery.
Do you have questions about how we can help with prescription drug addiction? Call our compassionate and respectful admissions specialists at 888-512-9802, or send in your questions online. Remember, there will never be a better time to start recovery than today!
Getting rid of unused prescription drugs is a great way to keep yourself and your family safe. To dispose of prescription drugs, you can attend a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day event, or you can simply visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website. All you have to do is plug in your location, and they’ll provide you with a place to safely dispose of your unwanted prescription medications!
In a word: yes. Whether it’s stimulants, opioids, or sedatives, prescription drug abuse has become a big problem in America. While anyone can develop a prescription drug addiction, adolescents and older adults are both at higher risk. For younger individuals, they may not realize the dangers of drug abuse, and they could have access to unused prescription medications at home.
And for older adults, the risk comes from access to many prescription medications due to health conditions, and in some cases a prescription drug addiction may begin with something as simple as a consistent dosing mistake.
Prescription drug abuse is often thought to be safe, but that’s far from the truth. In reality, there are many dangers of prescription drug abuse. Some of the biggest ones are:
- Overdose: As physical tolerance increases, it becomes easier and easier to justify taking more pills. The higher your tolerance, the greater risk that you’ll take too many and experience an overdose, which can be fatal.
- New Drugs: While most people insist that they will “only” abuse prescription medications, this is rarely true. It can be hard to find prescription drugs in the long term, so many people transition to readily available substitutes, like heroin and fentanyl.
- Withdrawals: When your tolerance gets high enough, going any length of time without drugs can make you seriously ill. These are called withdrawals, and the symptoms range from horribly uncomfortable to deadly. For most people, withdrawals are what keep them abusing drugs long after the “fun” of getting high has gone away.
The most commonly abused prescription drugs varies from place to place. However, generally speaking, the top 10 most abused prescription drugs are:
A pharm party (or in drug slang terms, a pill party or skittles party) is a party where people, usually teenagers, come together to mix their prescription drugs in a bowl and take them at random to get high. While this idea was popularized in the media, no strong evidence has indicated that pharm parties actually happen. However, prescription drug abuse is a real concern, particularly among young adults.