CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - Shot twice next to his best friend who was murdered - a survivor of the Columbine Massacre was in Charlotte sharing his story of addiction.
Austin Eubanks tells FOX 46 Charlotte how he hopes it will help others.
April 20, 1999. The Columbine High School Massacre left 15 people dead and ripped apart the lives of many.
"So my addiction started right after Columbine. I was in the library, I was shot twice and lost my best friend right in front of me that day," Eubanks said.
Eubanks was a Columbine student who survived the shooting. His best friend, Corey DePooter, did not.
"And within about 30 minutes I was numb," Eubanks said.
The 17-year-old was prescribed opioids for pain. It was the start of more than a decade of drug abuse.
"So long after the physical pain from my injuries had subsided, I was self-medicating for the emotional pain and the trauma that I experienced from the loss of my best friend," Eubanks explained. "I would take Adderall every morning to jolt myself awake, I would take opioids all day every day because I was dependent upon them or I would be sick and whenever I wanted to shut my body down I would take xanax."
Eubanks was in Charlotte this week meeting addicts and their families with local addiction expert Ward Blanchard.
"I think Charlotte has become a significant hub of illegal activity, prescription drug abuse and addiction is running rampant in our community and it's just now starting to get talked about," he said.
This week, President Donald Trump appointed Governor Roy Cooper to a panel that would combat drug addiction and the ongoing opioid crisis.
Heroin use continues to rise across the country, as well as fentanyl, a more deadly high - many addicts getting their first taste with prescription opioids.
"So the work that we do in educating families is talking about my story, my path to recovery, intervention methods that could've happened in my life that could be beneficial and perhaps to have people learn from my mistakes so to speak."
Eubanks says while his Columbine story is unique, his addiction story is a familiar one -- prescriptions for physical pain turning to emotional addiction. It wasn't until he woke up in jail in 2011 with no recollection of how he got there that he got help.
"Throughout my 20s I didn't speak publicly about Columbine and a big part of that was I didn't feel I was in a place, in active addiction, that I would do something to respect his memory," Eubanks said.
His best friend was killed right next to him in one of the counties first mass school shootings - one of the worst the country's ever seen.
"I think he would be very proud of that so that's why I'm willing to share this story publicly now," Eubanks said.
Now, he's trying to save the lives of people fighting a similar pain.