Two million Americans suffer from opioid addiction, and drug overdose has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths.
A Macomb County man is opening up from behind prison walls about the dangers of prescription drugs and what they are doing to today’s youth.
Robert Raab was having trouble with addiction, and his parents knew it. They never thought it would lead their son to a lengthy prison stay, but it did. Now behind prison walls, Raab is clean, thriving and eager to make up for his mistakes.
To Raab’s parents, he seemed to have gone from pre-school, to pee-wee football, to prison in the blink of an eye. The suburban kid from Fraser with a bright future fell to rock bottom thanks to a mix of prescription pills, alcohol and marijuana.
His fun quickly turned into an addiction.
“At first it started out with fun, but once opiates, as most people know, it sinks it's claws in you, it doesn't let go,” Raab said.
Raab said he is going public with his past addiction in hopes of helping others in his position.
"I want people to know that addiction doesn't discriminate against wealth, age, race, demographics,” Raab said. “It doesn't discriminate against anybody.”
Robert’s mother, Judy, knew something was wrong when his behavior began to change dramatically.
“It was so bad, because he wasn't even my son anymore,” Judy said. “You know the fun-loving kid who would tell me everything? He wouldn't tell me anything.”
Raab’s parents attended classes so they could learn how to talk to their son about addiction, but he was arrested before they were able to discuss it with him.
Raab and a few friends committed a carjacking in Detroit. He said he doesn’t remember the incident because he was high. Once faced with evidence, he quickly pleaded guilty and was given a swift sentence of four years behind bars.
“I got caught up in a car-jacking armed robbery in Detroit, and honestly this changed my life,” Raab said. “If it wasn't for my incarceration I'd probably be dead by now.”
Raab has since sobered up and is now back to being the good kid he was before an addiction to prescription drugs changed him.
He has signed up for special programs and even college classes. He now envisions the day when he is released, and is devoted to starting his new life by teaching kids on the outside not to make the mistakes he made.
“One day when I get out I want to help people but I want to let them know that they're not alone,” Raab said.
Although Raab's parents do not like that he is in prison, they are proud of where he is headed.
“I am just so proud of the man my son is becoming, and I know he is proud of himself, too,” Judy, said. “His main focus is to help younger men, kids stay positive. If something in your past happened that was devastating, or if you have hurt other people, you can turn it around.”
Raab’s earliest release date is July 2018. He said he will continue taking every class and every program that is offered to him in prison to prepare himself for a future helping kids to avoid the mistakes he has made.
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