SAN MACROS -- About 250 Cal State San Marcos students got an emotional reminder Monday of the consequences of abusing prescription drugs.
Aaron Rubin, 29, was greeted with polite applause as he and his family made their way to the front of the auditorium. But soon after they started speaking, tears started welling up in some students' eyes.
"Aaron is here to share his story and show the real consequences," his mother, Sherrie Rubin said.
Aaron groaned from his wheelchair. The former Poway High School athlete can only communicate by raising his fingers; one finger for yes, two for no.
"Aaron wants to tell the students not to go down the path of taking pills and drugs because there will be a tragic ending," Sherrie Rubin told San Diego 6 before the presentation.
At 23, Aaron suffered a heart attack and two strokes after an Oxycontin overdose at a party in 2005. He was in a coma for weeks.
According to the latest County statistics, prescription drug deaths have steadily increased over the last five years. In 2010, there were 48 oxycodone deaths compared to 16 in 2006.
"Kids are thinking that because it comes from a pharmacist, it's OK. Because it's medicine, it's OK," said Celeste Young with Mental Health Systems, a non-profit funded by the County.
Unintentional deaths from drugs, medications, and alcohol have jumped from 268 deaths in 2000 to 455 in 2010.
While the focus of Monday's event at San Marcos was primarily on the often-overlooked prescription drugs, methamphetamine remains the number one cause of drug-related deaths as a whole in the county. Heroin is the leading cause of drug-related death for people under 30.