Do you know about skittling? If not, there's a decent chance your adolescent son or daughter might. It's a dangerous new party trend among teens that is sweeping the nation, and even being copied by some preteens.
It goes a little something like this: If youth are going to get together for a party or even just to kill time, they might ask each teen to steal whatever they can from the parents medicine cabinet. They then go to a gathering and dump everything into a bowl at the door. Then, you guessed it, every youth will simply grab a handful of this prescription drug cocktail and down them in the hopes that it will produce a psychedelic experience; hence the name "skittling." Like grabbing a handful of skittles and sampling the different flavors, prescription pills become the skittles and are ingested in assorted variety just like candy.
The goal is to get a high/buzz/psychedelic experience of some kind or another, no matter what it is. In the quest to cure teen angst and boredom, any sort of altered experience will do. Making matters worse, alcohol is a common companion to such gatherings. In fact, alcohol is sometimes used precisely because it will interact with prescription drugs in dubious ways.
Needless to say, skittling can best be described as downright stupid and potentially deadly. But that doesn't mean your child won't try it. (Being stupid and doing dangerous things is part of a teen's job description.) Considering the dangers, it might be worth it to ask your child what they know about skittling, and have a discussion about the potential dangers.
Give your kids the facts:
1. Drug overdose deaths have shot up remarkably in recent years; so much so that they now rival motor-vehicle accidents for the #1 cause of accidental death in the US. It's something your teen should know. While everyone's aware of the danger driving a car can pose, overdoses are still largely regarded as a freak phenomenon among youth...something that rarely happens to anyone, and certainly not to them. Knowing the reality of the danger may give them second thoughts.
2. Make sure they understand that certain prescription drugs can cause serious problems when mixed with alcohol, which is precisely the combination likely to come about by skittling parties. It may not take much of either (alcohol or the drug) to turn deadly.
3. Talk about how exaggerated the actual experiences one might get from skittling likely are. Kids may hear all sorts of wild stories about what so-and-so experienced while skittling. But here's a news flash: teens often exaggerate and tell stories to impress their peers. More often than not, skittling will produce feelings of faintness, dizziness, and general queasiness...hardly sensations that are worth the risk.
4. Keep your prescription pills locked up and accounted for!
Also keep in mind that younger kids who may see or hear about their older siblings doing this may be inclined to try it themselves. It's well suited for copycatting by tweens: It's free, and they have ready access. So while this is primarily a teen thing, keep an eye out for the younger ones as well.
Visit www.keepyourchildsafe.org for more resources on child & teen safety topics, including free educational materials for children.