WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- Austin Eubanks saw his best friend get murdered during the shooting rampage through Columbine high school 20 years ago.
He was shot too.
In the years that followed, Eubanks turned to drugs to cope with the awful tragedy. Specifically opioids.
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“I can tell you that the correlation between trauma and substance abuse is profound. And not only that depression and suicide or closely correlated as well.”
After years of struggles and failed attempts to get clean, Eubanks is finally sober,
He travels the country including Tuesday's conference for the Pasco County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention.
He is doing what he can to help people from medicating themselves to get over emotional pain.
“We are all so prone to looking for the fast road to relief for whatever is going on inside us emotionally,” he said.
In the years since, the Columbine school shootings have become a common occurrence with students just like Austin, dealing with a terrible trauma.
“What is essential to healing that emotional pain is authentic human connection and that’s something we are being torn away from at an ever greater rate. Everything we use in our lives today is designed to be addictive.”
Austin has put his life back together, including reconnecting with his two sons who he lost contact with for two years.
He also meets face to face with many school shooting survivors, including some from Parkland.
“I’m still a person that is healing from trauma. But I do make myself available if anybody that reaches out.”
And many are reaching out.
Columbine doesn’t even rank the top ten of America’s deadliest school shootings.
For more information on Eubanks go to www.austineubanks.com .
And for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention go to