published Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

More Chattanooga-area teens taking part in drug-related ‘skittle parties’

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    File photo, The Associated Press Parents, teachers and law officers should know that teens often have much easier access to prescription medications than alcohol or illegal drugs, experts say.

Local doctors and child safety advocates say they have seen in increase in teenage prescription drug use including “skittle parties,” where teens dump various prescription drugs into a dish and randomly grab a handful to take.

Representatives from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and Children’s Hospital at Erlanger held a news briefing this morning to discuss the problem.

Three unconscious teenagers were recently admitted to Children’s Hospital at Erlanger and the teens later said they had taken part in such a party, according to Dr. Darwin Koller, medical director of the emergency department at Children’s.

Koller said the hospital saw 34 teenagers who had taken toxic substances in 2011, with 7 percent of those taking multiple drugs.

“The true incidence was likely higher; we rarely get a real version of what was taken and how it was taken,” Koller said. “Many children are not aware of what a combination of these drugs can do.”

A Centers for Disease Control report issued last week showed the poisoning death rate among teens ages 15 to 19 nearly doubled from 1999 to 2009, in part because of an increase in prescription drug overdoses.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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