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Deceptive drug practices outlined by SCV J Team

City-Sheriff’s Department workshop tells parents about trends in abuse

Posted: April 17, 2014 5:06 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2014 5:06 p.m.

More than 100 people, many of them local moms and dads, learned how kids can smoke drugs through a hollowed-out apple or a crumpled pop can during a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department workshop this week.

Detective Bill Velek of the Juvenile Intervention Team — “J Team” for short — narrated a slide show of common drug paraphernalia, including glass hash pipes, bongs and heroin-stained pieces of tin foil — along with a crumpled pop can transformed into a pipe and an apple modified for the same use.

About 100 concerned parents attended the drug-awareness workshop called “What You Don’t Know: Teens, Drugs and the Consequences” hosted by the city of Santa Clarita and the J Team at City Hall Wednesday night.

The goal was to make parents aware of warning signs of drug use and to provide information about trends in drug use in the Santa Clarita Valley.

It also provided moms and dads a chance to share painful personal stories of their struggles with teenage children taking, or addicted to, drugs.

One mother said she tested her daughter for drugs and found her clean, only to learn later that one her daughter’s friends had passed a bag of clean urine through the bathroom window during the testing.

Velek also updated parents about heroin use in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Last month J Team Investigator Bob Wachsmuth, who assisted in Wednesday’s workshop, told The Signal fewer people in the Santa Clarita Valley are using heroin compared to the alarming numbers witnessed two years ago.

Documented deaths from heroin totaled four in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2013, he said then, compared to at least 16 in 2012.

“Do we find students with heroin? Yes,” Velek said. “We’ve dealt with kids who thought they were smoking hash when they were actually smoking heroin and then became addicted.”

Velek warned parents that kids often encounter heroin use for the first time at parties. They may be seen smoking the highly addictive narcotic at first, but once addicted, injecting it “into every part of the body” becomes commonplace.

“Needle-sharing is not a problem out here,” he told the group, “because needles are easy to get here.

“The (heroin) problem is not at one school; it’s across the country. We’re seeing it everywhere,” he said. “What we have here in Santa Clarita, however, are open forums that allow discussion, and we need to continue talking about it.”

Dennis Poncher, who helps a San Fernando-based parent support group called Because I Love You, urged J Team members to ensure school teachers and administrators attend workshops such as the one Wednesday.

“This sort of meeting should be made mandatory for school officials,” he said. “This meeting should be in a coliseum and not in a small room like this.”

Velek concluded Wednesday’s workshop alerting parents to the emerging danger of the drug Zohydro, which he described as “ten times more addictive than OxyContin.”

“Hopefully we don’t see it here, but we probably will,” he said.

Zohydro manufacturer Zogenix posts a warning in bold type on its opening Web page. The lengthy warning reads in part: “Zohydro ER exposes users to risks of addiction.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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