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Film screened in Concord fights prescription drug abuse


By David DeBolt Contra Costa Times

POSTED:   03/11/2013 06:21:45 AM PDT 


CONCORD -- Aaron Rubin, a quadriplegic unable to speak due to a prescription drug overdose, uses his fingers to communicate: one means yes, two means no.


Does he regret taking that first pill? He raised his index finger. Did he think prescription drugs would ever hurt him? Two fingers.


In 2005 he overdosed on OxyContin at a friend's house in San Diego, suffered a heart attack and two strokes, and was in a coma for three weeks.


"We were planning his funeral," his mother, Sherrie Rubin, said Sunday at Concord's Brenden Theatres. "And he started opening his eyes."


The 30-year-old's story was one of many told in a free screening of "Behind the Orange Curtain," a documentary detailing prescription drug abuse among teenagers and young adults in Orange County.


The film's creator, Natalie Costa, said the abuse has become an epidemic in large part because pills can be found in medicine cabinets in most homes.


The Office of National Drug Control Policy calls prescription drug abuse the fastest-growing drug problem in the country. One hundred Americans die from a prescription drug overdose everyday, according to Costa.


Costa said she hopes her film helps to create a discussion between parents and their children about the dangers of prescription drugs.


"There's still a large amount of denial," she said. "(Parents) don't realize it could be their child."


In gripping testimonials, individuals in the film said they counterfeited money, underwent unneeded medical surgeries, and stole from homes to obtain pills.


One father, speaking of his son's death, said his friends dumped him off on the side of the road, drove to a fast-food restaurant, and called 911.


A teen girl who kicked her habit said she went to rehab 16 times, and in one case got high an hour after completing the program.


A dad said he punched his son in the face, breaking his nose, because prescription drug abuse had numbed his son to the world.


Sunday's event was organized by April Rovero, of San Ramon, who lost her son, Joey Rovero, in December 2009. The 21-year-old fatally overdosed from an combination of oxycodone, Xanax and alcohol while attending Arizona State University. He was buried the day after Christmas.


The younger Rovero got the prescriptions from Dr. Hsiu-Ying "Lisa" Tseng, who is now in jail and awaiting trial on three counts of second-degree murder and 21 other felony counts.


The film was shown as part of Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. On Monday, anti-prescription drug abuse organizations and friends and family of overdose victims will rally at the state Capitol in Sacramento from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. before a news conference that includes Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.


DeSaulnier has proposed two bills to fight prescription drug abuse.


David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at


Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month

WHAT: Rally and news conference

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Monday

WHERE: State Capitol, Sacramento

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