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Prescription Overdose Deaths By Teens Up, Summit Seeks Solutions

Sep 21, 2012

More teenagers are abusing and dying from prescription drug use.  Members of law enforcement, counselors, and prevention specialists gathered in Sacramento for a statewide summit on Thursday to see what can be done to reverse the trend.   

Sherrie Rubin and her son, Aaron traveled to Sacramento from San Diego for the summit.  They were among the 140 participants.  Sherrie says Aaron started abusing pills in high school. 

“Aaron overdosed in 2005.  We had no idea he was using prescription pills and he was in a coma for three-and-a-half weeks and we were planning his funeral.”

Aaron survived, but he’s now a quadriplegic who is unable to speak.  The Rubins now go to schools to warn students about prescription drug abuse.  

Also at the summit was Alan Santos with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.  He says it’s not drug dealers who first supply  prescription pills to teens.  It’s parents’ medicine cabinets.  Santos says that makes this a unique problem.  

“It’s one we can’t arrest our way out of.  So we really see the synergy of working with community –based coalitions, state- and local law enforcement, practitioners, doctors and pharmacists. We really need a team approach to this.”

The DEA has had great success in getting people to clear out their medicine cabinets.  In April, more than 4600 law enforcement agencies nationwide collected half a million pounds in prescription pills during a DEA-sponsored “Take Back” event.  The DEA is sponsoring another one next Saturday the 29th.