A Columbine survivor shares his story of overcoming opioid addiction

Local News

Austin Eubanks was given a second chance at life after surviving the 1999 Columbine school shooting that left 12 of his classmates and a teacher dead.

But it hasn’t been easy.

Eubanks, who was sounded twice in the shooting, was prescribed opioids to ease his pain.

“I remember the feeling in the hospital that day of the emotions just shutting off,” he remembered. “It wasn’t as sharp, it didn’t hurt as much, I didn’t cry as much.”

For years, haunted by the death of friends and his own injuries, he continued to self-medicate. He says he hit rock bottom on April 2, 2011.

“I opened my eyes in Denver city jail with no recollection on how I got there,” he recalled.

That’s when Eubanks decided to change. Today, he’s chief operations officer for The Foundry Treatment Center and a recognized expert on drug addiction and public policy.

On Monday, he was in Burlington to talk to members of the Vermont State Dental Society about what he calls “the worst public health crisis” the country has ever senn.

“None of the clinicians that I was seeing for therapy ever said, ‘what medication is he on?'” he said. “Comparatively none of my prescribers ever said, ‘let me talk to his therapist.’

“We need to form a collaborative treatment plan, because, he is going to have an increased susceptibility to developing a habit because of the trauma that he has just endured,” he said. 

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