Prescription Drug Abuse Luring Suburban Youth into Harder Drugs

imagesCAFE48DSMore youth are raiding their parents’ medicine cabinets, a growing problem in Oakland County that often leads to the use of harder drugs like heroin. These, in turn, can lead to addiction and even death.

Learn more about the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in youth at an Oakland Community College forum October 28.

Robert Stutman, the former head of New York City’s Drug Enforcement Agency office, will speak at community forum between 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at OCC’s Royal Oak Campus, 739 S. Washington, Royal Oak. OCC is the presenting sponsor.

Stutman will share his expertise with parents, students and communities. Every day 2,500 teenagers use a prescription drug to get high for the first time. He will share his thoughts on how to cope with and potentially resolve this devastating and debilitating problem.


Robert Stutman, the former head of New York City’s Drug Enforcement Agency office, will share his thoughts on how to cope with and potentially resolve the devastating and debilitating problem of prescription drug abuse in youth.

“For the past few years, more young people have died from prescription drug overdose than from heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine combined,” Stutman said.

To register for the October 28 event, visit

The events are part of a larger Oakland County initiative to address the emerging problem of prescription drug abuse among pre-teens, teens and young adults.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, 51st District Court Judge Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, OCC Dean of Nursing and Health Services Lori Przymusinski and Oakland County Health and Human Services Director George Miller, announced a partnership last month that includes the Oakland County Sheriff to raise awareness of the issue among youth and their parents.

Judge Debbrecht Switalski, founder Regional Anti-Drug Education and Outreach (RADEO) program, brought the issue of youth prescription drug abuse to Patterson’s attention after seeing many teens in her courtroom struggling with addiction. She has seen firsthand how prescription drug abuse is a gateway to using heroin.

Often, access begins with a prescription from a doctor, from a trusted friend, or from the family’s medicine cabinet. Parents are encouraged to take the following steps to help prevent prescription drug abuse:

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs
  • Know your child’s friends
  • Supervise your child’s activities
  • Monitor prescription medication in the home
  • Lock up medications
  • Monitor where your children spend time and their surroundings
  • Properly dispose of unused and expired medications

Warning signs include but are not limited to missing medications from family members, dramatic changes in appearance or behavior, excessive over‐the‐counter medicine use, abrupt mood swings, always looking for money, continued use of the prescription drug and missing valuables.

About OCC:

With five campuses throughout Oakland County, OCC is celebrating its 50th year. OCC is the largest community college in Michigan and the 25th largest in the nation. It offers degrees and certificates in more than 160 career fields and university transfer degrees in business, science and the liberal arts. More than a million students have enrolled in the college since it opened in 1965. To learn more about OCC, visit

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