Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 2007
Source: 100 Mile House Free Press (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 100 Mile House Free Press
Author: Christopher Cain


Two young boys are fortunate to be alive after nearly overdosing on
some heavy-duty prescription pills the morning of March 30.

With information that two teens were unconscious, paramedics and two
ambulances raced to the 103 Mile area at 6 a.m. Upon arrival, the
emergency crews found the boys semiconscious, gave treatment and then
rushed them to 100 Mile District General Hospital.

Showing no improvement, the 14-year-old boys were flown by the Infant
Transport Team to Vancouver Children's Hospital just after 11:30 a.m.

"The information that I have is that it was cardiac type medications
with suspected unknown other substances," said Nelson Oler, paramedic
chief with BC Ambulance Services in 100 Mile.

"I would say it's an increasing occurrence," Oler said.

Reached by phone, a relative of one of the teens was clearly shaken up
by the turn of events.

"If he hadn't gone to the hospital by ambulance to Vancouver, I think
it could have been game over for him," the relation said.

The boys -- one a student at 100 Mile Junior, the other a friend who
was visiting -- decided to experiment with prescribed medication and
wound up in serious condition.

"We just wanted to know what it was like to take antidepressants,"
said one of the boys. "It was a dumb thing to do."

The youth, who spent three nights in the hospital, said he and his
friend were not involved in what is known as a "pharm party," although
he did admit knowledge of this relatively new phenomenon. This is
where kids break into their parent's medicine chest, take pills to a
party, toss them into a bowl and then consume the drugs in random fashion.

While "pharm parties" may be new to Canada, they have been part of
teen culture in America for the past few years.

A study released by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in May,
2006 found that nearly one in five (19 percent or 4.5 million) teens
in the U.S. has tried prescription medication -- pain relievers such
as Vicodin and OxyContin and stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall --
to get high.

Abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications, the report
states, is on par or higher than the abuse of illegal drugs such as
Ecstasy, methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin.

The study also reveals that many teenagers, referred to as Generation
Rx, believe popping prescription pills to get high is safer than
taking illicit drugs.

Not so, says Gordon Dickie of Donex Pharmacy.

"It's just about the worst thing you can do," the pharmacist

"With most medications, it is very easy to overdose. Certain drugs are
very potent and if you're taking someone else's medication, you don't
know what the potency is."

With death as a very possible outcome, Dickie says taking prescription
pills is not unlike playing Russian Roulette.

"It's something that's not to be done in life."

Mark Wintjes, principal of 100 Mile Junior, was alarmed to hear that
one of his students nearly OD'd.

"Sometimes it's situations like this that has the most impact on
kids," Wintjes said. "They can see it and it's real and this is what
has happened."

The school counsellor, he noted, was freed up from her teaching duties
last Monday to talk to upset students.

"It's flirting with disaster," said Peter Skene Ogden Senior Secondary
principal, Vic Brett, shocked to learn that kids are taking such risks.

"We need to be proactive about how we educate the students," he

One of those proactive measures will take place May 16 and 17, when
100 Mile Junior and PSO bring the police officers and cast of "Through
A Blue Lens," a 1999 documentary about drug abuse in Vancouver's
notorious downtown eastside, to the schools for presentations.

"We think there's no greater impact than watching that film and having
those people address us," said Brett. "It's quite a well-noted

The two boys had their stomachs pumped and were given the ultimate
reprieve. An extreme cautionary tale if there ever was one, others who
decide to experiment in such a manner may not be quite so lucky.

"It's such a travesty when you see a student death," Brett said. "It
just shakes us to the core, so however we can help to avert anything
like that, we're going to do it."
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