Editor’s note: This is not a real party, but the teens in the following situations are acting out scenarios that occur in real life.
By MARY MALONE
SANDPOINT — Alcohol and drugs were everywhere, all around the kitchen and scattered around the living room. Teens drank and took pills without a second thought of what the consequences might be.
A teenage girl sat on the couch, drinking vodka and when the boy next to her handed her a pill, she took it without question. After a few minutes, he took her to another room as she stumbled, nearly passed out. When he dragged her out of the room later, shouting "Who's ready for round two," a fight broke out as another young man came to her rescue. But it was too late.
A short time later, another teen girl fell to the floor, her friends rushing to her side.
The group tried to keep her awake while one friend called 911 and the girl's parents. Bonner County EMS arrived on scene and took her out on a stretcher, asking her questions as they did, such as what she took or drank at the party.
While consuming alcohol, she had also taken something from the "skittles bowl," she said. A skittles bowl, one of the teens explained, is where a bunch of people throw different pills into a bowl and people take one, or more, without knowing what it is.
Luckily, the teens were only acting. But, unfortunately, the group came up with the skit from things they have heard of or seen in real life.
The 7B Drug Free coalition started the Reality Party in 2015 as an effort to educate parents on the current realities of teen parties and open the dialogue between parents and teens about risky behaviors.
"It's really designed to impact parents to where they want to open that conversation up with their youth about what is happening when they're away from home," said Erika McCall, executive director of 7B Drug Free. "That's our hope, is to show parents that these things happen and that it's OK to talk to their kids about these things because (the kids) are going to see them at some point and they need the techniques and the coping skills to be able to handle these kinds of situations."
The 18 teens who participated in the 7B Drug Free "Reality Party" Wednesday evening at Talus Rock Retreat are students from Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille high schools.
In the previous two years of organizing the "Reality Party," McCall said coalition members have brought in a facilitator from out of state to help put it together, but this year they decided to let the kids put it together with the help from coalition members like Sandpoint Police Officer Spencer Smith, who also serves as the school resource officer.
"We gave them a little guidance, but this is legitimately what they see at parties," McCall said. "It is all their own words, their own ideas, all of their own things they have heard about, or seen or have had friends tell them. So it's actual things that happen in Bonner County."
During the debriefing after the skit, the teens said the only thing they included that doesn't happen as much in Bonner County that they know of is "Skittle parties." That is something that happens more in places like Spokane or big cities, they said. Some of the drugs of choice for this area are marijuana and Suboxone, which is a narcotic used to treat heroin addiction, but is a synthetic form of heroin itself. Teens don't just take the pills either, they smoke or snort them as well.
Smith said he doesn't see too many parties in town. Most of them happen out of town, and the students said people even travel to Oldtown or Clark Fork areas to attend parties, where hundreds of teens show up.
The group put together the skit and rehearsed most of the day. SHS junior Julia Neuder was the tour guide who came out and invited the parents into the party and showed them around, explaining what was happening in each scenario. Teens were drinking, smoking, taking pills, eating marijuana brownies, playing beer pong and doing keg stands.
Neuder said she had to remind herself it was not real when she watched her friend, Bryanna Ells, get dragged off by the boy who gave her the pill — all of the students were quite convincing.
Ells said she and the two boys who "fought" had real bruises just from practicing the scenario. In real life, Xanax is a popular date rape drug, she said, so it is good for parents and kids to know the dangers that are out there.
"I think it's a really good experience because I personally don't really party," Ells said. "I think it's really good to see what happens to our peers, because we hear about it; we come back to school after prom and we hear what's happened, but it doesn't seem like it's real here. It's such a small town, you think it's a safe place ... you don't realize all that goes on."
Neuder and Ells said they would like to see a similar skit done for younger students, such as middle schoolers or high school freshmen, so they can see the dangers before they get to the age where they might start attending parties where drugs and alcohol are available to them.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.