MUSKEGON, Mich. - Students from two Muskegon County schools learned about the dangers of drug abuse.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, Muskegon County Prosecutor D.J. Hilson will take the stage with former drug addicts and inmates at Fruitport Middle School and North Muskegon High School Flex Center. The five speakers are all actively engaged in drug addiction recovery work and are eager to share their personal stories.

Students at Fruitport Middle School will hear from Nate Johnson, who spent his teen years as a crack cocaine dealer in Muskegon before going to prison; Alton Casey, a native of Detroit with an extensive history of substance use and heavy criminology from the age of 14; and Coty Hill who began using drugs when she was 15, suffered a near fatal overdose, and was transported to the hospital where she learned she was pregnant.

At North Muskegon High School, 270 students will also hear from Johnson, Jennifer Rae and Terry Johnson. Rae, born in Ludington and raised in Florida, will share her story of drug use and the poor choices she made beginning at age 11. Terry Johnson, another Detroit native, will talk about his years of living as a substance abuser which led to over two decades of incarceration.

"There is great value in teenagers hearing the true stories of real people who made poor choices, paid the price for those choices, and then turned their lives around. That's when teens really hear the truth about how drugs destroy lives," said Hilson.

Michigan State Police will be recording portions of the program to share with health educators, students at other schools and parents.

Hilson pointed out that since 2000, deaths due to drug overdose in Michigan have increased by 511 percent.

"With over 18.6% of teens from our county self-reporting the use of alcohol, 15.3% reporting marijuana use, and over 7% admitting to misusing prescription drugs, it is a critical topic to cover with our kids," said Hilson. "Unfortunately, drug addiction can also affect the littlest in our area. In Muskegon County last year, 215 newborns tested positive for drugs. Early intervention can be a catalyst to help reduce those numbers," he added.

The event, hosted by the Prosecutor's Office and several community partners, is the third in a series called "Shattering the Myths" and will feature real people who have faced the untold consequences of marijuana, opioid, heroin, prescription drug, and alcohol use. Hilson said the event will help teens identify drug use in its earliest stages and learn how to help a friend or teen.

For help with a substance abuse problem, please contact HealthWest at 231-720-3200.

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