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Frank Ferry: Drug use persists one year after ‘Heroin Kills’

Posted: August 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 18, 2012 2:00 a.m.

In August 2011 the city of Santa Clarita held a special symposium in response to the issue of heroin use by young people in our community.

A public outreach program “Heroin Kills: the High is a Lie” was created and included the website The purpose of the program was to raise awareness of a troubling fact; heroin exists in Santa Clarita and has taken the lives of too many of our young people.

One year later, the city will host another symposium to let community members know where we stand on the deadly issue of heroin in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Many Santa Clarita parents were shocked to learn that there have been hundreds of drug related overdoses over the last few years. Since the heroin symposium last August, we’ve seen at least seven fatal overdoses, which we know of, from heroin use.

What we know, is that heroin doesn’t distinguish between kids coming from at risk homes or those coming from loving, healthy families. The victims of fatal overdoses and addiction are as familiar as any face on a high school or college campus. Most of the time parents find out about their child’s heroin use after it’s too late.

The first thing we need to do is dispel the myth that heroin use is relegated only to back-alley junkies. Since our SCV Sheriff’s Station has seen the spike in heroin use over the last few years, they are finding that the purity levels of the drug are so strong that it can be snorted or smoked to achieve the same high as what was previously only reached through injection.

Because of the availability of the drug and the need for needles removed, heroin use has become an epidemic in urban communities such as Santa Clarita. We have seen that it only takes one time to overdose or become addicted. That’s it — one use.

The Sheriff’s Station has taken an extremely aggressive approach toward drug enforcement. They utilize many resources and have had success arresting dealers, but that is only part of the solution. It takes an entire community to come together to fight the issue of heroin and other drug use among our children.

Santa Clarita is not alone with the plague of heroin claiming our children. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find heroin in suburbia is a nationwide problem.

While awareness has increased about the devastation that heroin has caused among families in Santa Clarita, one year later, the problem still exists and it’s deadly.

Much is being done to stop heroin use in our community. On the front lines are dedicated nonprofits like Action Family Counseling and A Light of Hope, which work tirelessly to provide recovery, diversion and counseling services.

The city’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, SCV Sheriffs Station and representatives from the Hart school district meet regularly to develop solutions to the problems facing our valley.

Beginning this new school year, the Drug Free Youth In Town program, aka DFYIT, is being launched in all junior high and high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley. This education and diversion program is a partnership among Los Angeles County, the city of Santa Clarita, the William S. Hart Union High School District and the SCV Sheriff’s Station.

There are also several faith-based organizations that have joined the community fight against drugs. Soon the city will launch public service announcements to help raise awareness.

At 7 p.m. on Aug. 29, at the Santa Clarita Activities Center, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, leaders from all areas of the community will lead a hard-hitting symposium about what is being done to combat heroin use locally and what parents and teens need to know.

The program will feature a resource fair at 6 p.m., with the main program happening from 7-8:30 p.m. Speakers will include myself, SCV Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Becker, local emergency physician Dr. Darrin Privett, counseling and recovery expert Cary Quashen, coordinator of student services for the Hart district Kathy Hunter, Tim Traurig, from A Light of Hope and others who are on the front lines of the war on heroin in Santa Clarita.

The evening will also preview the new DFYIT program. Parents are strongly urged to attend to be able to equip themselves with the knowledge to help keep their children drug free. For more information go to

Frank Ferry is Santa Clarita’s mayor and can be reached at


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