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City, community to tackle drug abuse at symposium


Posted: August 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Four years ago, hundreds of families packed the Sports Complex for the city’s first Heroin Kills Symposium to learn about the rising use and abuse of heroin among young people in our community.
I was encouraged by the positive response received from residents of all ages. Everyone at the event was eager to learn more about the troubling heroin trend and what they could do to help stop the abuse and escalating deaths from heroin abuse, which totaled 12 that year.
From 2010 forward, the Santa Clarita City Council, Sheriff’s Department and School Districts made the decision to address the issue of drug use and abuse openly.
This approach not only helps families dealing with drug abuse but provides essential awareness and prevention information to help stop abuse before it starts.
This Wednesday at 6 p.m., I hope you will join the city, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department, William S. Hart Union School District, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and several community groups at the Sports Complex for the City’s free, fourth annual drug awareness symposium.
This year’s symposium, “Pills Kill: Prescription to Addiction,” will raise awareness about prescription drug abuse and how it serves as a gateway to addiction and death.
Since 2010, 36 teens and young adults have fatally overdosed on heroin and prescription drugs in Santa Clarita.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as one in five teens in the United States have taken a prescription drug that was not prescribed for them, and more than 2,000 teens begin abusing prescription drugs each day. These are scary statistics, folks.
Our young people have an incorrect perception that, because pills are prescribed by a doctor, they are safe.
However, there is no difference between abusing opioid based pain killers, such as Vicodin, and abusing heroin. These pills are basically synthetic heroin, extremely addictive, and can lead to physical and mental dependence and heroin use.
Prescription pills are also just as deadly as street drugs. According to the Foundation for a Drug Free World, prescription drug abuse accounts for more fatal overdoses than all street drugs combined.
The real danger is that prescription drugs are just a medicine cabinet away from most young people in our community.
Local kids and teens are getting their hands on these deadly drugs at home or at a friend’s house where prescriptions aren’t locked up.
If you do only one thing after reading this article, please take a moment to lock up your prescription medications. It is a simple act to help ensure that you do not become an unsuspecting drug dealer.
I also encourage parents, grandparents and teachers to stay involved in their kids’ lives and ask questions about school, friends, activities, issues they are facing and how to help.
School just started and the new Drug Free Youth in Town (DFYIT) program is hosting rallies at all junior and high school campuses to share information about staying active, sober, and making good choices.
Why not find out if your teen has heard about the club, and discuss how you can help them say “no” to drugs.
The City of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department offer multiple resources year-round to combat drug abuse in our community.
For example, the City and Sheriff’s Juvenile Intervention Team (J-Team) regularly hosts workshops for parents to address drug abuse and provides tips to help parents stay involved. You can view these workshops anytime on the City’s YouTube site at
Drugs know no economic or geographic boundaries. They are a problem that cities across the nation are facing each day.
We recognize that while we cannot prevent every drug-related death, we can arm ourselves with information and the best prevention practices, teach parents and authority figures how to identify warning signs of abuse, share intervention options, and support local resources for recovery.
Knowledge is power in our efforts to decrease the number of families affected by drug addiction.
I hope to see you Wednesday August 27, at the City’s Sports Complex for the fourth annual “Pills Kill: Prescription to Addiction” Symposium. The event will begin with a resource expo at 6:00 p.m. followed by the symposium at 6:30 p.m.
For additional information about the event, what the city is doing to raise awareness about drug use and abuse, or to explore other local resources for prevention and recovery, please visit
Bob Kellar is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at


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