Wichita Falls police are trying to spare parents a devastating loss and warn Texoma about the dangers of Poppy Seed Tea. We spoke with one parent who says concentrating those seeds in a tea took away his 17-year-old son forever.
For his privacy and his son's memory, we're calling him Tom. He wishes to keep his son's name out of the headlines, but feels it is crucial to share his story.
Tom knew his son was drinking Poppy Seed tea. He says he did it to help calm his anxiety.
Tom told Newschannel 6, "It sounded very innocent, poppy seed. An herbal ingredient used for baking. If it worked for him we said okay, that's fine."
But on the morning of September 13, 2003, Tom's son never woke up.
"We woke up with him making sounds from the bedroom, and he was actually in a coma."
Tom's son died at 9:30 that night. It wasn't for another 3 months that Tom and his wife would find out how their son died.
The cause of death: a morphine overdose. Tom and his wife couldn't believe where those drugs came from, the Poppy Seed tea they allowed their son to drink.
Wichita Falls D.A.R.E. Officer Kris Henning says the tea can kill you the first time you try it.
"Every time is a new risk," she says.
That's because the seeds used have residual amounts of opiates or morphine on them that are passed from the pod. And since every seed and every pod are different, you never know how much morphine your tea will contain.
"Even if they haven't done it before they can't predict if this time it's going to be fatal or lethal," says Officer Henning.
Tom's son is proof of that. That's why it is so important to him and his wife to alert other parents, even his mission saves just one life.
"We had to spread the word to both kids and parents that even though it seems innocent, it has huge potential risks associated with it," says Tom.