Warning For Oklahoma Kids Taking So-Called Skittles

Sunday, November 18th 2012, 5:50 pm
By: News 9

Deanne Stein, News 9

HARRAH, Oklahoma -- There's a new trend parents should be aware of when it comes to their kids and Skittles. No, not the candy, but the street name for cold medications.

In some Oklahoma communities, kids are popping the pills like candy. We talked to Phil Stewart, a school resource officer at Harrah High School. And while he says there is not a huge problem at his school, he does know about the trend and just how dangerous it can be.

"What they are referring to is cold tablets in various forms and various colors, that's where it's getting the street name," said Stewart. "We're seeing people drinking entire bottles of cough syrup or entire packages of tablets."

Medications, he said, that contain the ingredient dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. And when taken in high doses, it produces an effect that can become addicting. In fact, he says he's heard of some kids having so-called Pharm parties, short for pharmaceutical, centered around "Skittles." At these "Pharm" parties, the kids typically bring the pills and throw them into a fishbowl.

"So, you've got a fishbowl full of pills and kids will take out of there what they want and they don't know what they're ingesting," he said. "It creates a euphoria that becomes similar to a drunken stupor. It has resulted in fatalities, it most certainly can in youth and have a lot of other problems associated with it."

Especially in kids with a pre-existing illness like diabetes. And Stewart says the risk becomes even more elevated with the multi-symptom medications.

"The amount you have to take in order to get high from this, that amount of Tylenol is also in your system, and of course has a negative effect on your liver."

The problem is the drugs are so accessible, sold over the counter at most stores. But taking them off the shelves, Stewart says, isn't likely.

"We can't just take it off the shelves completely, and not make it available to the public," he said. "There are people who legitimately need it, but like so many other things, it can be abused."

However, some stores have policies where they won't sell to certain people they see on a regular basis or they won't sell more than one box.

Stewart says the best defense against this type of abuse is for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers. He also says if you notice sudden changes in your child like a drop in grades, new style of clothing, new friends, etc. then have the talk with them.