Fuck Yeah Drug Policy

Trading for a High | TIME

In the basement of a Cape Cod on a suburban street in northern New Jersey, a teenage boy turns to a friend and asks impatiently, “What did you get? I’ll give you some of this”—indicating a bottle of Ritalin stuffed into the front pocket of his backpack—“for some of that painkiller.” As a rap song plays just loud enough not to disturb the neighbors, his friend eyes the bottle suspiciously. “Is this generic, or is it the good stuff?” he asks. Upstairs, several teens are sitting at the kitchen table listening to a girl who looks to be about 15 tell how she got the narcotic Oxycontin from the medicine cabinet at home. “It was left over,” she says, “from my sister’s wisdom-teeth surgery.”

This isn’t an ordinary party—it’s a pharming party, a get-together arranged while parents are out so the kids can barter for their favorite prescription drugs. Pharming parties—or just “pharming” (from pharmaceuticals)—represent a growing trend among teenage drug abusers. While use of illegal substances like speed, heroin and pot has declined over the past decade, according to a report issued three weeks ago by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), abuse of prescription drugs has increased sharply. CASA says about 2.3 million kids ages 12 to 17 took legal medications illegally in 2003, the latest year for which figures are available. That’s three times the number in 1992, or about 1 out of every 10 teens. “It’s a hidden epidemic,” says Dr. Nicholas Pace, an internist at New York University Medical Center. “Parents don’t want to admit there’s a problem out there.” +

Perhaps it’s because I’m from a different generation, but it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the alleged popularity of pharming parties.

Are they for real? Or just media hype?

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