Overcoming the Columbine Tragedy and Addiction

Austin Eubanks
As the new kid, finding friends entering high school at Columbine was tough. I was grateful when I met Corey. We had the same interests – fishing, golf, country music – and had an instant bond.

On April 20, 1999, we met in the library to make after-school fishing plans. I remember hearing hammering sounds, but Corey said they sounded like gunshots. We brushed it off until a teacher ran into the library screaming for everyone to get under the tables.

Minutes later, I had lost my best friend. I was lucky enough to escape with only bullet wounds to my knee and hand, but the emotional scars will always remain.

In the weeks afterward I was treated by several doctors – all prescribing medications, but none in collaboration with the others. I was taking pain pills, amphetamines, and psychotropic medications. Before that day, I had never had a drop of alcohol or tried drugs but I quickly learned to manage my emotional pain with pills. Within three months, I was an addict.

This addiction persisted throughout my 20s and was largely prescription-based. I was able to find doctors to prescribe Adderall, Xanax, and Oxycontin. I used Oxycontin all day, every day. I woke up to Adderall and ended my nights with Xanax.

Although I was able to rely on my creative aptitude to piece together a successful career in marketing management and business development even winning some awards, I wasn’t really keeping it together. After each of three rehab stints, it was a matter of time before I relapsed.

On April 2, 2011, I woke up in jail with no recollection of how I had gotten there. I was 29 and had been in active addiction for nearly 12 years.

I went to treatment for the fourth time but this time with a willingness like I had never had before. I was willing to walk differently, talk differently and approach recovery with a sense of humility. I knew that in order to recover, I needed to change everything. Career, relationships, hobbies, and most importantly – motivations. I could no longer approach life with self-serving interests.

Today, I am five years into recovery. I credit my successful recovery with a long-term inpatient program and ongoing aftercare that has kept me on track. Without that structure and support, I could never be where I am today. I have a positive relationship with my two sons and a wonderful fiancée as my partner in life.

I found my calling in helping others on their journey through addiction and now serve as the program director of The Foundry Treatment Center in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Having experienced several centers personally and during several years of working in the industry, I am proud to be a part of such an innovative treatment program.

For anyone out there struggling with addiction: You are not alone. There is help. You can recover.

Last Updated: 08/18/2017