Combatting the Opioid Epidemic in San Diego

The KPBS Community Heroes initiative recognizes individuals who give selflessly to build civility and community in San Diego, while raising awareness and generating dialogue around pressing challenges in the region.
The KPBS Community Heroes initiative recognizes individuals who give selflessly to build civility and community in San Diego, while raising awareness and generating dialogue around pressing challenges in the region.

The opioid epidemic is a challenge that stretches across all our communities. Its victims are of all ages, races and walks of life.

According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 130 people in the U.S. die every day from overdoses. In San Diego County, more than 250 people died in 2018 alone from opioid-related causes, as shown by preliminary numbers from the County Medical Examiner.

Those numbers reveal a grim reality that San Diego leaders are working to fix.

On June 25, community members and local leaders came together to discuss the opioid epidemic and how its impacting San Diego families at the latest Community Heroes Community Conversation.

The event, sponsored by The San Diego Foundation and hosted in partnership with KPBS and the National Conflict Resolution Center, honored Escondido resident Sherrie Rubin, who has spent the last 10 years educating communities about the dangers of opioid use and addiction as the founder of Hope2gether Foundation.

In 2005, Sherrie almost lost her son Aaron after he had taken a dose of Oxycontin that was as strong as black tar heroin and slipped into a coma. While he survived, Aaron now lives as a quadriplegic and is a reminder for those he speaks to that opioids can have a devastating impact on individuals and loved ones.

Sherrie and Aaron regularly speak with local leaders, students and organizations as opioid educators and advocates for drug policy changes.

As Sherrie explained, “You need the combined efforts of all entities and community leaders to halt the opioid epidemic.”

Community Hero Sherri Rubin (right) shares her story with KPBS reporter Kinsee Morlan at the latest Community Conversation on June 25.
Community Hero Sherri Rubin (right) shares her story with KPBS reporter Kinsee Morlan at the latest Community Conversation on June 25.

That’s why she works with agencies such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to combat the opioid crisis.

In addition, Sherrie has shared her story and testified at the state capital to advocate for key policy changes involving opioid prescriptions in California. Thanks to her efforts, the state passed legislation to make the use by doctors of the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) database mandatory rather than voluntary.

Sherrie’s work is paving the way forward to halt the opioid epidemic in our communities and create a healthier San Diego.

Join the Conversation

The San Diego Foundation is proud to support the Community Heroes initiative and local leaders such as Sherrie who are working to make San Diego a safer and more vibrant place to live.

By engaging in difficult yet productive conversations, San Diegans from all sectors, including law enforcement, healthcare, public policy and nonprofits, can address pressing regional challenges, such as the opioid epidemic.

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