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Sterling police: ‘Pharm’ parties all the rage

Created: Friday, March 8, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:20 p.m. CDT

STERLING – Pill parties are popping up in the Sauk Valley and elsewhere.

The latest trend on the drug scene is for teens to get as many of their family members’ prescription medications as they can and bring them to “pharm” parties where they mix medications in a bowl and take them throughout the night, Sterling Police Detective J.D. Sanders said.

Sanders discussed trends in the drug world at a presentation for health care providers at Whiteside County Senior Center.

His advice for seniors and others who have unused, unwanted medications lying around: “Get rid of it, so it doesn’t end up in the hands of someone who shouldn’t have them,” he said.

Mary Cox is senior protective services supervisor with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. The social service agency is part of Senior Nexus, a group in Whiteside County exploring senior issues.

“I’m sure they’re not thinking their granddaughter or grandson is going to dip into their medication,” Cox said. “Reports I get are of family members, paid caregivers or neighbors who are taking medications. You just never know.”

Addiction leads youths to go to extremes to get medication, Sterling Police Lt. Doug Fargher said.

“A kid doesn’t grow up saying ‘I want to steal from my parents.’ They get addicted, they do what they can do to get a hold of a controlled substance.”

Family theft of medication might be underreported, Fargher said.

“They don’t want their family members to get in trouble,” Cox said.

LSSI can help family members figure out where to keep medication away from those who might take it, even if they don’t want to tell law enforcement, she said.

In cases when an entire bottle has been taken, they might be able to help with getting a prescription for a new bottle and with the cost of the medications, she said.

Beth Sterk is community liaison for Whiteside HomeCare.

Because of the poor economy, many households have multiple generations living together. These situations can lead to young people taking medications from elderly family members, especially when medications are kept out in the open, she said.

“It’s important for us to highlight our awareness.”

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