You could hear a pin drop in the Corona del Mar High School gym Thursday morning as Sherrie Ruben and her 31-year-old quadriplegic son, Aaron, explained how drugs changed his life forever.
The assembly was held as part of Red Ribbon Week at CdMHS, and hundreds of students gathered to hear Aaron's story. Ruben, who is the director of the drug education organization Hope2gether.org, told the CdM students Aaron lost his voice as a result of a stroke that
followed his drug overdose at the age of 23 from OxyContin.
The once athletic teen, Aaron now communicates by raising one
finger for “yes” and two fingers for “no”.
“Even though it’s too late for Aaron to accomplish his goals it’s not too late for you if you don’t use drugs," Ruben told the students.
Aside from hearing the story from Ruben, Aaron's responses were also compelling for the students and gave them a clear insight into the consequences of drug use.
Ruben asked Aaron,
- When you were in high school did you abuse prescription drugs? Aaron lifted one finger, implying "yes."
you have friends that used drugs? Aaron lifted one finger, implying "yes."
you think anything bad would happen to you? Aaron lifted two fingers, implying "no."
you think you could stop anytime you wanted? Aaron lifted one finger, implying yes.
you want to stop? Aaron lifted one finger, implying yes.
you stop? Aaron lifted two fingers, implying no.
Ruben said drugs made her son sad and miserable, and at one time he even wanted to take his own life. Aaron chose
to spend eight months in a residential rehabilitation facility, but it wasn't enough to change his habits.
After his overdose in his early 20s, the doctor said Aaron was going to die. When his parents tried to make arrangements to donate his organs,
Ruben said they were devastated to learn the only usable parts of his body were his eyes and skin.
“You may look good and healthy on the outside, but drugs damage the brain and organs on the inside,” Ruben said. “It’s your choice, we can’t make those decisions for you, but we are here to help you make informed decisions about your life.”
Research shows every 14 minutes someone dies from prescription drug overdose, up from every 19 minutes in 2010; and it is the number one cause of death in the United States. There is also now a “Good Samaritan” law in California that encourages witnesses of suspected drug overdose to do the right thing by calling 911 to try to save a life without fear of arrest for minor drug violations.Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and Sign up for the daily email with links to the latest local news.