Drug film premier draws emotional reactions
By Pat Kumpan
The premier of “Behind the Orange Curtain,” a documentary about the rising abuse of prescription drugs among teens and young adults in Orange County, drew an audience of roughly 400 to the Poway Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday night.
It was an emotional reaction by viewers — kids, parents, drug treatment counselors and area residents — to what the film’s producers say is an epidemic sweeping the nation.
The film balances parents’ viewpoints with those of addicts, with heart-wrenching details from both sides and includes candid comments from those who have used drugs and survived.
Next month, the film will be on HBO. Check listings for times and channels.
The film was shown in Poway courtesy of director Brent Huff and executive director Natalie Costa along with the H.O.P.E. Foundation, established by former Poway residents Sherrie and Mike Rubin, accompanied by their son Aaron, a Poway High School graduate who survived a drug overdose in 2005 and is now a paraplegic.
Sherrie and Aaron are some of the San Diegans shown in “Behind the Orange Curtain.”
When Aaron overdosed at a friend’s house, that family did not call 911, but sought advice from other friends about how to handle the situation, according to Sherrie Rubin.
The delay in seeking medical treatment may have contributed to her son’s condition, she said. When he was finally transported to a hospital, the Rubins were told because of the severity of the overdose, his brain not receiving enough oxygen for an extended period of time, he most likely would not live through the night. Yet, he surpassed the odds.
Sherrie Rubin and a few other parents mention that point in the film and now an effort to create a Good Samaritan Law in California to protect those who call 911 from possible prosecution due to their own affiliation with drugs is in the works, she said.
“I look forward to continuing to educate people about drug abuse,” Rubin said. “Aaron accompanies me to schools and other presentations.”
In the film, one mother who lost a son to drug use said, “Sometimes I go to the mountains or the beach just to scream.”
Statistics about drug use show up in the film, using white lettering on a black background, such as: 2 out of 5 teens think prescription drugs are safer than other drugs; 60 percent of teens before becoming 15 use prescription drugs; most teens start experimenting with alcohol or drugs at 12; and 23 million people nationwide need rehabilitation (due to drug or alcohol abuse).
Prior to the showing of the film, former professional baseball player Bret Boone, a third-generation ballplayer, spoke about his addiction to alcohol.
“My grandfather warned me ‘addiction is a problem in our family,’” Boone said.
Boone recalled different aspects of his career, how he enjoyed the game, but how he ultimately began drinking more and more, never coming to grips with his addiction, he said.
“I was still very self-entitled,” he said. “I thought I could control it (my addiction) with willpower.”
Ultimately, he said, “I needed a drink to get through the day — and it got so physically exhausting.”
One day, after consuming 10-20 drinks, he got in his vehicle and was ticketed with a DUI.
“It was a wake-up call for me about what could have happened,” he said.
A year ago, he met with a counselor to talk about his addiction.
“He told me ‘It’s your ego (getting in the way),’ and added, ‘You can’t do this (deal with your addiction) with your mind.’”
Boone, who is now retired, speaks with seventh-graders about the dangers of drinking and now attends church on a regular basis, he said.
“I learned to get out of the driver’s seat,” Boone said. “I listen now and take advice.”
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