What are the “pharm” parties that attract some teens?

Dr. John C. Eustace, MD
Addiction Medicine

Unfortunately, pharm—short for pharmaceutical—parties are not a myth. This is how it works: After raiding the family medicine drawers or cabinets, teens will come to a party armed with a stash of pharmaceutical drugs, which are tossed into a large bowl. After the bowl is filled with assorted drugs, teens will grab and swallow fistfuls of random drugs. Each handful of random pharmaceuticals could hold a very toxic or dangerous mix of painkillers, antibiotics, tranquilizers, sleep medicine, anti-hypertension pills or whatever.

You could say that the kids are playing a pharmaceutical game of Russian roulette, because there’s absolutely no way of knowing what prescription drugs are in each fistful or how the mix of medication will interact. There are potentially dangerous side effects from swallowing unauthorized doses or combinations of pills designed for treatment of serious medical conditions. What’s more, there is the serious risk of accidental drug overdose.

Medical professionals in emergency rooms are treating more kids who arrive in ER because of heart palpitations, severe panic attacks or other conditions caused by unauthorized use of prescription drugs. The teens don’t intend or plan to hurt or injure themselves, but at pharm parties, kids participate in a dangerous game.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.