Youth pill-popping is meeting topic

2012-04-24T02:15:00Z Youth pill-popping is meeting topicBy Piper Haugan of The Montana Standard Montana Standard

Adolescents in Butte are using pills and dangerous drugs much more frequently than in the past, causing law enforcement, schools and a local health center to hold a public meeting focusing on how parents can identify drugs and help prevent their children from using them.

Cindy Stergar, director of the Butte Community Health Center, told the 50 or so parents who attended the meeting Monday at the Butte Archives that staff at the center has noticed an uptick in the reported use of prescription drugs as well as Ecstasy and Molly. Adolescents have been hospitalized this year due to drug use, and last year an adolescent died in Butte due to an overdose, Stergar said.

“If 15 people had a heart attack in a week, we’d be quite concerned,” Stergar said.

Sheriff John Walsh said law enforcement has seen a change in kids’ parties over the past year. For example, “fish bowl” parties, where kids use prescription pills indiscriminately, are occurring. He said his department has learned of two to three of these parties in the last six to eight months.

Tammy Cox, the health center’s pharmacy director, said as the mother of a 13-year-old and two younger boys, the idea of fish bowl parties terrify her. She said there’s a misconception that prescription drugs must be safe since doctors prescribe them, but the truth is doctors and pharmacists tailor each prescription to the individual. A dose that’s fine for one person may be deadly to another, she said.

Stergar added that the concern about underage drinking and marijuana use hasn’t gone away either.

Walsh encouraged parents to bring the information home and share it with their kids.

“Law enforcement can only do so much,” Walsh said.

Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@mtstandard.com or Twitter.com/Piper_Haugan.

Drug education meeting Wednesday at Archives

To shed light on an increase in illegal prescription drug use among teens, Butte police and others will hold a public meeting at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, in the Butte Archives, 17 W. Quartz St.

People will learn how to recognize the drugs, signs and symptoms of use.

Butte Community Health Center, along with the city’s law enforcement and schools, are sponsoring the meetings.

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