News of the phenomenon, which was first mentioned in print back in 2002, exploded into the mainstream on June 12, 2006 when USA Today published an exposť linking pharm parties to "the rising abuse of prescription drugs by teens and young adults." Other media outlets followed suit, lending credence to what really only amounted to a fistful of anecdotal reports.
As recently as last week, reporters were still quoting secondhand sources to give the impression that pharm parties are "catching on" among young people in America. The following example appeared in the Jackson, California Ledger Dispatch on Friday:
"One thing that's becoming really popular is 'pharm parties,'" a student at Argonaut High School told the Ledger Dispatch. "Each kid who comes steals scrips from their parents' medicine cabinets. At the party, they mix all of the different pills in a big bowl and then start randomly swallowing stuff."A skeptic begs to differ
Slate's editor at large Jack Shafer has been monitoring press coverage of the phenomenon for the past three years and flatly disbelieves that pharm parties exist. "I've failed to locate a single human source or article that documents a single such festivity, let alone proves that they're commonplace, as the media would have you believe," he wrote last month.
In a follow-up article he added: "It's my position until I see proof running the other direction that it's an urban myth that young people across the country are playing Russian roulette with stolen pills, a myth that can be traced back to the late 1960s, when the drug-bowl bashes were written up by a credulous press as "'fruit salad parties.'"
Is there anyone out there who can document such activities firsthand, either as an eyewitness or a direct participant? Your testimony is welcome here.