How Did Austin Eubanks Die? New Details On The Columbine Survivor's Battle With Addiction And Death At 37

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How Did Austin Eubanks Die? New Details On The Columbine Survivor's Battle With Addiction And Death At 37

Austin Eubanks was only 17-year- old when he hid under a table at Columbine High School as two students went on a shooting rampage. Eubanks survived with injuries to his hand and knee. His best friend, who was hiding beside him, was killed. In the years after the shooting, Eubanks struggled with an addiction to the pain killers he was prescribed in the hospital following the shooting. His addiction led him to other drugs, arrests, a failed marriage and an estrangement from his children. He finally got sober in 2011 after multiple attempts and started a new career helping others with their addictions. But this weekend, he was found dead in this home. So far no cause of death has been released.

How did Austin Eubanks die? Read on for all the details.

1. Survivor

Eubanks was a junior at Columbine High School on the day that two students entered the building and opened fire, killing 13 and wounding 23 others. While Eubanks survived the attack, his best friend died of his wounds. Eubanks told People that, while he was recovering from his own injuries, he became addicted to the pain medication he was prescribed. "You lose a best friend, you lose a sense of safety. I was in all this turmoil and now I feel better. I liked that.” He went on to say: “I learned to manage emotional pain with substances. I learned I didn’t have to process emotion. I could keep myself numb if I was on substances.”

Eubanks survived what was then the worst school shooting in history.

2. Addiction

After he recovered from his injuries, he never settled into a responsible life. He told People: “Addiction shut down the frontal lobe of my brain. It affected my judgment and rational thinking. My life just focused on impulsivity.” He spent years cycling through different jobs, which he always lost due to his behavior, as well as getting arrested for issues such as stealing cars, writing bad checks and fighting in bars. He got married but divorced his wife after several years and, in the process, lost touch with his two children. he made several attempts at rehab but nothing worked until he was about 29-years-old and "I woke up incarcerated and I had absolutely no recollection of how I got there,” he said. “I decided I was either going to die or figure out what was going on in my brain,” People reported in 2016.

Eubanks struggled with addiction.

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3. Recovery

Dealing with his addiction meant dealing with the trauma of Columbine. It took months of in-patient treatment and intensive therapy for him to really succeed at his own recovery. By 2016, he had been sober for five years and was beginning to make a career as a motivational speaker, helping others deal with addiction. In addition, he began working at The Foundry, an addiction treatment center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. By 2019, he had been promoted to the Chief Operating Officer of the facility. 

He had been on tv talking about Colombine days before his death.

4. Cause of death

On May 18, 2019, Eubanks's father went to his home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where he found his son dead. At this time, police don't suspect foul play and cannot determine if the death was the result of an addiction relapse and accidental overdose until final toxicology reports come back. But CBS News reports that the Eubanks family issued a statement saying: "Unfortunately Austin lost the battle with the very disease he fought so hard to help others face. Helping to build a community of support is what meant the most to Austin, and we plan to continue his work. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and request that our privacy is respected at this time."

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His father found him.

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5. Relapse

Relapse into addiction is not an uncommon issue, according to Steamboat Springs Commander Jerry Stabile, and police suspect that is what happened to Eubanks. People reports that about 40 to 60 percent of those treated for substance use disorders will relapse at some time in their lives. “It’s a terrible disease,” Stabile said. “It appears that it’s a lifelong endeavor to turn the corner on it. This is a prime example of that.” Final toxicology results will be available in several weeks, police say.

The cause of death has not been determined.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you can call the National Drug Helpline at 888-633-3239. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.