Opioid Overdose Victim Shares Story With Oklahoma Students
PRYOR, Oklahoma - Experts say 129 people die every day in this country from a painkiller overdose, but even overdoses that don't end in death can have tragic results.
That's why one man is sharing his survival story with Oklahoma students.
Aaron Rubin was a star football player. Big, strong guy, popular with everybody, from a good family, the last person in the world you would think would end up becoming a quadriplegic from a prescription painkiller overdose.
Aaron was born into a loving family, one of four children.
He grew up in a supportive atmosphere and was active in school and church. His mom says the girls loved Aaron and he had tons of friends and he was known as someone who stood up for those smaller than him.
He grew into a strong young man who was a talented athlete, but then he broke his arm in high school and was prescribed painkillers by a doctor.
That moment changed him as he and his fellow football players started taking painkillers after games to relax, then adding muscle relaxers, then alcohol.
This is Aaron today, unable to walk or talk, unable to dress himself, feed himself or do anything except hold up one finger for yes and two fingers for no.
"Aaron, you, you agree, knowledge is important and can save your life?" asked Sherrie Rubin, Aaron's mother.
Aaron told his parents he had a drug problem and they got him in rehab twice, but when he was 23 he went to a friend's house, took Oxycontin and didn't wake up.
His friends found him blue and unresponsive. They pounded on his chest, threw ice on him, called the pharmacy in Tijuana where they bought the Oxycontin asking for advice, then called a paramedic friend for help, then loaded Aaron into a car and drove him 20 minutes to a hospital.
He went 40 minutes without oxygen, had a heart attack and two strokes. Doctors told his parents to pick out a burial plot.
"Did you ever think that the consequence would be what you're experiencing today? One for yes, two, for no. No," Sherrie asked Aaron.
Now, nine years later, they share Aaron's story all over the country and recently spoke at every school in Mayes County.
"There are thousands more Aaron's, you just don't get to see them," said Sherrie.
They believe if kids know the dangers of prescription pills, they'll make better decisions.
Sherrie said, "They change the chemical composition of your brain so quickly, you become a hostage."
Sherrie says if you don't talk about these tragedies and dangers to the community, you won't have a community left.
"Aaron loves coming out and it actually gives him a purpose. He is fulfilled by it, I believe and possibly, why he survived," said Sherrie.
These Pryor students were certainly impacted by Aaron's struggles.
"He was a good guy, always an athlete, it can happen to anyone. Should open their eyes," said Katy Holcroft, Pryor High School Senior.
"Hopefully kids walk out of here with the idea in mind, that drugs really aren't for just pain, they cause pain, don't relieve it," said Jake Due, Pryor High School Senior.
Sherrie says if they can just save one life at every speech, it'll be worth all Aaron and his family have endured.
"When they're at a party or being offered, his face just might come back in front and help them make a wise decision," she said.
In addition to educating young people about opioids, the other part of their message is if something does happen, call 911 immediately because had that happened in Aaron's case, his outcome might've been different.
They're give away bracelets that say, "Don't run, call 911."