When it comes to trick-or-treating, there’s always some degree of anxiety for parents. As children walk door to door, collecting candy from strangers, safety is a concern. Generally, the Halloween tradition is safe: children have fun getting dressed in their costumes and fill their bags full of sweet treats. Each year, however, one horror story emerges of a stranger dishing out tainted Halloween candy to children.
This year, the culprit was a Canadian pharmacy. Canadian children out trick-or-treating last weekend got more than they bargained for. The children were offered, albeit accidentally, two drugs used for the treatment of bipolar disorder: Quetiapine, an antipsychotic, and Divalproex, an anticonvulsant.
This unfortunate incident began when a lady dropped her teenage son’s medication as she was leaving a Quebec City pharmacy. A customer spotted the seven individually wrapped pills lying on the floor, picked them up, and left them beside the pharmacy’s Halloween candy bowl. An employee then accidentally mixed the pills into the candy.
Police reported that the medications would not endanger children; however, with any pharmaceutical drug, numerous adverse side effects are a possibility. Quetiapine, for instance, can potentially increase suicidal thoughts in both children and teenagers. The other medication, Divalproex, also comes with a lengthy list of possible side effects — not exactly the kind of treat that children were looking for!
While this incident was an innocent mistake, it sheds a light on a growing problem in the US. More and more children are being prescribed potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.
It’s clear that we’ve become desensitized to how powerful these pharmaceutical drugs can be. Just because a drug comes from a legal source does not mean that it is safe. It’s no secret that we are currently living in a pill-popping nation and that our mentality regarding prescription medication needs to be reassessed. Painkillers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and a wide range of other medications are handed out like candy these days — how ironic.
There is no doubt that modern medicine is unraveling some incredible discoveries and has helped many in times of need; however, drugs are not the only solution. In fact, in many cases, they create further complications, due to side effects and addiction. For some, prescriptions lead to death, and this trend is steadily rising.
Patients need to be more willing to explore alternative behavioral and nutritional options before they seek these strong medications. The same is true for doctors, as there are plenty of potential solutions which can be suggested before a 17-year-old is given two medications on a regular basis. At the end of the day, when medications of this strength are being so readily distributed, there is a need for stricter regulations.
This scary Halloween mix-up illuminates an even more frightening problem in the US. For now, let’s be thankful that no one was seriously hurt, and let’s begin to stress the need for alternatives to these potentially dangerous medications — both for adults and children.
—The Alternative Daily