As a teen, summer break is perhaps the most exciting time of the year. Sleeping in, staying up late, beach vacations, pool parties- what’s not to love? For many teens, however, summer does actually have a dark side. The summer days that fall between Memorial Day and Labor Day are categorized as “The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” According to AAA, in the past five years the number of teen deaths caused by car accidents increased by 16% daily during this time period compared to other days of the year. While texting and driving is largely responsible for this spike in teen deaths, there are other reasons we should be aware of: prescription drugs, alcohol, or the combination of the two.
There’s no denying that teen risk-taking escalates in the summer. Freedom from school means more opportunities to spend time with friends outside of school which can potentially lead to more peer pressure to experiment with substances like marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs. While alcohol remains a constant threat for teens, those who are consuming alcohol at parties or with friends may also be tempted to take other substances to amplify the high of intoxication. Xanax, for example, has increased in popularity among teen party-goers due to its availability in a large percentage of household medicine cabinets. Alcohol and Xanax build on each other to affect the same neurotransmitter and work to reduce the overall activity in the brain, leading to slurred speech, memory loss and blackouts. Ingesting Xanax in combination with other depressants such as alcohol can slow down respiration to dangerously low levels and can cause brain damage, comas, or even death. Students who get behind the wheel after taking sedatives- especially in combination with alcohol- put themselves at an extremely high risk for automobile accidents.
Another emerging trend making its way through the teen party circuit is “pharm parties.” During “pharm parties” teens raid their family and friends’ medicine cabinets, gather up the prescription drugs, toss them in a bowl, and pass the bowl around like candy. The drugs that end up in these bowls are often a mix of sedatives, stimulants and painkillers. Teen at “pharm parties” may take one or more of these pills without knowing exactly what they are consuming. Combining prescriptions drugs- especially in combination with alcohol- can make for a lethal mixture.
With all the freedom and free time that comes along with summer break, it can become increasingly difficult to avoid these high school parties that all your friends and classmates are attending. If you do find yourself in these situations, follow these 9 Tips for Party Safety:
- You don’t have to drink or use drugs to have fun.
- Trust your own judgement. It’s okay to say no.
- Let your parents know where you are going.
- Stay close to your friends.
- Don’t accept drinks or food from people you don’t know. Never leave your drink (even non-alcoholic beverages) unattended.
- Do not drink and drive. Do not get in the car with a driver who has been drinking or who has taken drugs.
- Call a trusted adult if you feel unsafe at a party and need to leave.
- Never leave an intoxicated friend alone.
- If someone at the party is in danger, remember the Georgia Amnesty Law. Georgia’s Medical Amnesty Law protects victims and callers seeking medical assistance at drug or alcohol overdose scenes. The caller and victims cannot be arrested, charged or prosecuted or small amounts of drugs, alcohol or drug paraphernalia if the evidence was obtained as a result of seeking medical assistance.