Corey,* a 16-year-old high-school junior, stands before the open medicine cabinet in his parents’ bathroom and pulls out his cell phone, texting his friend Melanie.*
“Got xbrs, vic, sktls kpc.” Translation: “Got xanabars (slang for the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, Vicodin (a prescription painkiller), skittles (any over-the-counter cold pill containing DXM, the active ingredient in cough suppressants). Keeping Parents Clueless.”
Melanie will be hosting a “pharm party” later that night.Each invited guest has to bring some pills, which will be combined in a bowl with the other kids’ offerings to make what they call “trail mix.” If a guest doesn’t bring something, Melanie won’t let that person in, and that would be a major social disaster for Corey, who feels fortunate that his parents have a well-stocked medicine cabinet. Picking from the trail mix bowl is always an awesome thrill, because unless you’re really experienced, you have no idea what you’re taking.
Teens Find Highs Everywhere
Teenagers don’t have to go to the streets to get illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin anymore. As a matter of fact, the good news is that use of illegal drugs is down in all grades of high school, according to the 2007 Monitoring the Future report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Instead, teens are using what they find at home, what they can buy legitimately at retail stores, and what they can buy over the Internet. Recent studies have shown that the use of prescription drugs and inhalants has increased. (Alcohol, of course, remains extremely popular and accessible.)
“The drug menu is bigger,” says Steve Psierb, President and CEO of Partnership for a Drug-Free America, adding that teens stealing from the medicine cabinet is the “number one problem” in teen drug abuse today.
*Corey and Melanie are composite characters