A Columbine shooting survivor has been found dead at his home, twenty years after he was shot twice and watched his best friend murdered in front of him.
Austin Eubanks, 37, was found at his Steamboat Springs home on Saturday morning.
Just a month ago, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the shootings, Eubanks told DailyMail.com how he spiraled into the opioid and alcohol abuse as a way to numb the pain
Eubanks described his difficult and inspirational journey to sobriety and how he became an advocate for fighting addiction, traveling the country telling his story.
Eubanks' family said in a statement that he "lost the battle with the very illness he fought so hard to help others face."
The family added: "We thank the recovery community for its support. As you can imagine, we are beyond shocked and saddened and demand that our privacy is respected at this time. '
Austin Eubanks, 37, was found at his Steamboat Springs home on Saturday.
Just a kid: Austin Eubanks was just a 17-year-old junior when the sound of gunshots began ringing through the hallways of Columbine High School in Colorado, changing his life and lives of every single person at the school that day. He was found dead at his home Saturday
Tragedy: On April 20, 1999, Dylan Klebold, Murderous rampage that left 12 students and one teacher dead
His last public speaking engagement was the 2019 Connecticut Opioid and Prescription Drug Prevention Conference earlier this week, his Twitter account shows.
Eubanks was just a 17-year-old junior when the sound of gunshots began ringing through the corridors of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado
'I had a routine where I would meet up with my best friend Corey DePooter in the library and we'd discuss what we were going to do after school, "Eubanks told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview in April.
'As we sat down, that's when the shooting started.
Eubanks told DailyMail.com that he passionately believed America's (19659018) 'This was 1999, no one knew what high-powered gun-fire sounded like in the corridors of a high school
"Then she yelled at us again and we realized this was serious, so Corey and I hid under a table as the gunmen came in firing. They moved methodically from section to section coming to ours last. '
I was laying there playing dead. I was hit twice but I knew Corey was gone
That's when Eubanks says he was disconnected from reality. Klebold fired multiple gunshots under the table, hitting him in the leg and hand
He survived and pretended to be dead, but his friend was not so lucky. Bullets pierced DePooter's neck, chest and arm – killing him instantly
'I was laying there playing dead. I was hit twice but I knew Corey was gone – he was the last person killed in the shooting that day. '
Satisfied with their actions, the gunmen moved on. When the coast was clear, Eubanks and the surviving students ran to safety
'My right hand was bleeding but I could not feel any pain nor register what was happening. I was disassociated and I did not even realize that my leg was wounded until I tried to run
'I was taken to hospital for treatment and that's when my story really started.'
Eubanks revealed that he was unable to process the grief that he spiraled into an opioid addiction in an attempt to amput the agony with a daily intake of alcohol and prescription painkillers. I was on 7.5mg of Vicodin to start with some other medication to help cope with sleep and shock. I turned myself into an emotionless robot until I could not feel anything anymore
When I took those substances things felt better.
Quickly Eubanks' alcohol abuse led to marijuana, then ecstasy and cocaine and even during his worst period – heroin
All of this was to
Although his then-wife helped him in a 28-day recovery program, Eubanks was unable to beat his demons and
One night he woke up in jail with no recollection of how he'd gotten there. He was blacked out in a restaurant and was picked up wandering the streets in a drug-addled daze. That moment, he decided, was the rock bottom on which he would build the foundations of his new life upon
At the height of his addiction he says he was taking 400mg of the highly addictive and potentially lethal painkiller Oxycontin every day – more
Addicted brains do not make sober decisions and I went back to my life after 28 days in treatment and then got even worse. Then I went to the treatment for 90 days and again slowly slipped back into old behaviors with old friends. "
One night he woke up in jail with no recollection of how he'd gotten there.
That moment, he decided, was the rock bottom on which he would build the foundations of his new life upon. ] 'Aged 29, in 2011, I stayed in treatment for 14 months where I finally started dealing with survivor's guilt. It was only then I went through the stages of grief that I should have gone through when I was 17. '  Eubanks told his DailyMail.com that he passionately believed America's haste in meditating pain instead of focusing on a deeper human connection is one of the biggest issues facing it today
Eubanks was determined to help others who were struggling to cope with trauma turning to substances as a means of disconnecting from reality
I have a picture of him in my office and I have a picture of him in my home. I did not think of the sadness
As the days ticked down to April 20, 2019, Eubanks said his dear friend DePooter was never far from his mind
He kept a photo of him in his office and in his home – to remind him, not of the grief, but of the good times they shared
In previous years he marked his day on his own by fly-fishing – a passion he and his best friend shared together.
This year was in Florida for Easter, attending a church service on a beach surrounded by friends and loved ones.
'I have a picture of him in my office I have a picture of him in my home. (196590070) Eubanks tragically leaves two daughters and a former wife behind him
In previous years he has marked the day on his own by fly-fishing – a passion he and his best friend shared together . It allows him to be in the moment and introspective. This year he will be in Florida for Easter, attending a church service on a beach surrounded by friends and loved ones