Accidental deaths from prescription drug overdoses are the leading cause of unintentional deaths in America.
Prescription parties or 'pharm parties' are pushing those numbers higher.
'Pharm parties' are the code word for these parties. A bunch of prescription pills are tossed in a bowl. Partygoers grab a handful and swallow them. But what some young adults don't realize -- what they're doing could kill them.
"Teenagers and young adults think these drugs to be safe because they're prescribed drugs, therefore they've got to be safer than drugs that they buy out on the street when the reality is that these drugs are very lethal. They can just actually kill you the very first time you take them.This is like playing Russian Roulette because you don't know how you're going to respond to these medications. You don't know what the medications are and it is invariably very risky behavior and cause a death," said Dr. Dan Heinemann, Chief Medical Officer at Sanford Health.
"It could be something as simple as a diuretic or it could be something as strong as a pain medication that only should be taken every four hours, or one to two every four hours and they're taking one or two or three at once," said Darcy Jensen, Director at Prairie View Prevention Services.
In South Dakota alone, there's been an estimated 84 deaths related to opioid overdoses since 2004. That's about 10 people per year who have died from an accidental or intentional overdose of prescription pain medications.
"It's anywhere that there are these pills, they'll take a couple of them," said Dr. Heinemann.
If you do have prescriptions just laying around, you can drop them off at the prescription drug drop off box at the Sioux Falls Law Enforcement Center. It's free and no questions asked.
Disposing of your unused prescriptions is one step you can take to protect your children. The next step is education.
"If you don't have the conversation, you don't know where your child stands on the issue. They may not even think of it as an issue of danger," said Jensen.
If you are caught at one of these parties, you will be charged with possession of a controlled substance.
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