I don't dispute that some teens might be throwing pharm parties. Given the abundance of pharmaceuticals, I'd be astonished if some aren't gathering right now in a suburban basement and doing and sharing drugs—as they have for decades. But are pharm parties a trend? Are more teens getting zonked on pharmaceuticals than ever before? USA Today doesn't produce the proof.
None of this is to suggest, as some of my e-mail correspondents will inevitably charge, that I advocate a healthy diet of prescription painkillers and stimulants for teens, or that I believe drugs are safe or innocuous, or that parents need not worry about their kids getting stoned.
Instead, I counsel parents to seek nonhysterical information about drugs so that when they discuss the subject with their children they won't be laughed out of the room. Parents who rely on USA Today for their drug info should prepare themselves for the humiliation that comes with snorts of derision.
Addendum, June 19: See the sequel to this story.
UCLA drug policy scholar Mark A.R. Kleiman gives me the business for what I wrote yesterday about a meth study. Send additional scorn, praise, and bus tokens to email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Earthlink folks: Turn your spam filters off if you want me to write back.)