More young people are dying from drug overdoses in San Diego, and across the country, according to a CDC study.
This continuing problem has led to the creation of the San Diego County Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force in 2008.
Now the group works to prevent and reduce prescription drug abuse in the region. In a recent study, the Task Force found that the most overdose deaths in 2014 happened to people between ages 25 and 44.
Over the last six years, the number of people dying from prescription drugs has remained steady, confirmed the San Diego County Medical Examiner.
Sherrie Rubin created the foundation, Hope2gether, after her son, Aaron Rubin, overdosed on Oxycontin at the age of 23.
“They’ve survived their addiction,” said Sherrie. "They’ve chosen not to go into recovery and they need higher and higher levels. And so, when they need to get to the next level, ultimately they are going to make a mistake and take too much."
Her son survived but now he is a quadriplegic. Aaron started taking prescription drugs at Poway High School while on the football team.
“He was a defensive football player and it is pretty brutal for Thursday night try-outs," explained Sherrie. "You are vetting for your position, teammate against teammate. There are a lot of injuries--sprained ankles, dislocated fingers, neck and back aches and he started self-medicating with painkillers."
Aaron was in a coma for a month after his overdose when his doctor asked Sherrie if she wanted to take him off life support.
She fought the idea and asked to see another MRI of her son’s brain. That’s when doctors found something miraculous. Aaron’s brain was improving and after changing his antibiotics – he opened his eyes within 24 hours.
“They weren’t the beautiful blue eyes I had known for 23 years. They were rolled back in his head," said Sherrie. "They were cloudy and gray. For a moment, I thought, ‘what have we done?"
"And in that same second I said, ‘My son is here. We will take each day and make it the best day we can’ and that’s what we have done," added Sherrie.
The Hope2gether Foundation works to “reduce and prevent prescription drug, heroin and other drug addiction, overdoses and deaths.”
Sherrie believes that there are two methods to controlling the rise in opioid addictions -- consumer protection and education.
“Any child or young adult is going to experiment with substances around them. They have for generations before us and they will generations after us. And unfortunately for this generation, they had hundreds of thousands of dangerous pills in medicine cabinets in America," said Sherrie.
"It’s important for parents to understand this could happen to anyone, as well as themselves. And to educate young adults about pain pills. That they are dangerous and if they are in the home to lock and secure them and lead by example."