MARIN COUNTY (KCBS)— A father grieving the loss of his son to a prescription medicine overdose has channeled his sorrow for good in helping organize and speak out for an innovative Marin County program that addresses the staggering epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
It was December 1st, 2012 when A.J. Torchon died. “Loosing a child is the worst thing that can ever happen to anybody,” said A.J.’s father, Rick. He described his son as a smart student, musician, and loving son.
A.J. was with friends at UC Santa Barbara, where he went to college. He smoked marijuana, had a couple of beers and then took Opana, the trade name for oxymorphone, a very powerful prescription painkiller.
“He got his hands on it and it killed him,” Rick Torchon said. But after harboring months of intense grief he now helps get the word out to parents, kids, educators and even doctors about the often fatal hazards of prescription drug abuse.
Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s Public Health Officer said in 2012 that there were 49 drug overdose deaths in Marin, more than cancer-related or automobile accident deaths combined.
Along with Torchon, Willis and others in the community have formed Rx Safe Marin, a grassroots effort bringing in partners, which includes, law enforcement, prescribers, physicians, pharmacists, schools, and concerned family members.
“There is not a day that goes by where I don’t kick myself for not knowing the problems of prescription medication. If I knew then what I know now about the problem with prescription medication, we would have had a different conversation with our son.”