SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – The opioid crisis that is sweeping the country is being felt in San Diego.
Medical and legal professionals came together Wednesday night to address the growing epidemic and how to help those who are addicted.
The idea was to bring health experts from across the country together, from the family of people killed by opioids to the doctors who prescribe them, and discuss the epidemic recently declared a public health emergency by President Donald Trump from all angles.
San Diegan Aaron Rubin was 23 years old when he overdosed on Oxycontin. His mother, Sherrie, said the pills he took were time released.
“We really thought we were going to lose him. It was a death cocktail – both sides of his brain,” she said.
Aaron, now 35, survived but is now quadriplegic and unable to speak.
A horrific experience that propelled Sherrie to form Hope Together – a local non-profit working to battle the opioid epidemic that is plaguing San Diego County and the nation as a whole.
Sherrie Rubin led a forum in Mission Bay Wednesday – bringing together medical and legal professionals to combat the crisis.
Dr. Roneet Lev, Chief of Emergency at Scripps Mercy Hospital, has been studying opioid-related deaths in San Diego County for nearly a decade.
She said that one of the toughest things to balance as a doctor is that their job is to help patients and prescribe medication that is supposed to help their pain, but often times it's abused.
"All of the sudden I saw my name," Dr. Lev said explaining an instance where she saw her name on the medical examiner's report of a patient who died from an opioid overdose.
"How could that be? I am, like, the biggest advocate. I know more about this epidemic than most physicians and I saw my name on a prescription and that rattled me to the core."
Opioids are also prevalent on the black market as well.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Mark Conover said the drug of choice among cartels in recent years is fentanyl, an extremely potent pain medication that is flooding into the country through the San Ysidro border.
Experts say that while opioid-related deaths are preventable, the solution to the problem is not easy and that it starts with everyone coming together.
Thursday will feature a training session for a medication that can help stop an overdose in its tracks.