You probably know Skittles as those cute little candies that come in the red bag. You know...the ones that tell you to “taste the rainbow.” They might give your teen cavities, but they typically aren’t too harmful.
If you hear the term “skittles party,” however, we're talking a whole new level of danger. And if your teen is attending a skittles party, please know he or she isn't sitting at someone’s house passing around a bag of these harmless treats. Far from it.
What Parents Need to Know About Skittles Parties
A skittles party is when teens get together to abuse prescription drugs. Each kid brings a handful of pills to contribute. These are often stolen from your medicine cabinet or someone else’s.
All the teens at the party dump their collective pills into a large bowl, creating a pile of “skittles.” Each then grabs a handful, like you would from a candy bowl, and begins popping them.
To the rational parent, this sounds foolish, dangerous, and insane. To the teens at the party, it sounds exciting. They're seeking the thrill of not knowing what they're taking or how it will affect them. (Which are the exact things that make this so dangerous.)
Here are ten truths you (and your teen) should know:
- #1 Skittles Party = Russian Roulette: Let's be honest, Russian roulette is a much more appropriate name for these parties. Teens have no idea what they're taking. A handful of unknown pills could do very little...or it could kill them.
- #2 Dosage is Unknown: Even if your teen has an idea of what “skittles” are in the mix, they still have absolutely no idea what the dosage is. Prescribed for someone else, the pill’s potency might be much more than their body can handle.
- #3 Risk of Overdose is High: Because teens have no idea what they're putting in their bodies, they're taking a huge risk of overdosing. Each drug on its own could be dangerous, but combined, they're even more lethal.
- #4 Death is a Very Real Possibility: If a teen overdoses at a skittles party, they might not get the medical attention they need in order to survive. Others at the party may be afraid to call 911 for fear they'll get in trouble, resulting in the senseless loss of a very young life.
- #5 Allergic Reaction May Occur: Again, the teens don’t usually know what kind of drugs they're taking. Even if they know of any personal allergies, the information won’t help. They could easily take something that causes an allergic reaction – which could be fatal.
- #6 Medical Conditions Are Ignored: Does your teen have any conditions that could be exacerbated by certain substances? Teens attending skittles parties typically aren’t concerned with these issues. Popping the wrong pill could worsen conditions or even prove deadly.
- #7 These Parties Are Common: Prescription drug abuse is rampant. It accounts for one in ten emergency room visits among teens. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reports nearly one fourth of high school students abuse prescription painkillers. If your teen hasn’t participated in this type of party, it’s likely they know someone who has.
- #8 You Can Help: Without the “skittles,” there’s no party. Don’t make medications easily accessible for your teen (or their friends). Dispose of unused medications and lock up current ones.
- #9 It's Time to Talk to Your Teen: Drugs aren’t the easiest subject to broach with your teen, but it’s essential to do so. Ask if they know anything about skittles parties or if any friends have ever invited them to a skittles party. Follow up with questions, education on the dangers of prescription drug abuse, and, above all, be sure to listen to your child.
- #10 Help is Available: If your teen is abusing drugs, their life is at stake. The issue isn’t any less serious if they're using prescription drugs as opposed to street drugs. It’s just as deadly. Don’t ignore the issue or try to “fix” this problem alone. Get treatment and support. Find a program tailored for teens and get them the help they need.
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