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Hundreds turn out for third city ‘Heroin Kills’ symposium

Posted: August 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.

SCV Sheriff's Detective William Velek displays photos of drug paraphernalia on a screen for hundreds of attendees at the Heroin Kills Symposium held at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on Wednesday evening. Photo by Dan Watson.

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Hundreds of Santa Clarita Valley residents turned out Wednesday night to hear how to identify and prevent drug use during Santa Clarita’s third annual “Heroin Kills” Symposium.

The purpose of the symposium, according to officials, is to educate community members about how to recognize drug use work to prevent it and intervene to stop it.

“The only way to handle a problem that faces an entire community is to address it as a community,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar.

More than 300 attended this year’s symposium, which was held in the activities center at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex Wednesday night.

A series of panelists covered an array of issues related to the problem of drug addiction during the two-hour event.

Deputy Josh Dubin with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station spoke about the relationship between social media activity and drug or alcohol use, saying that the Internet opens up a new way young people can be pressured into using drugs or alcohol.

“There is a new type of peer pressure: A virtual peer pressure,” Dubin said.

Dr. Darrin Privett, the emergency medicine attending physician at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, told attendees about the experiences he has had treating drug users in the emergency room, such as having to extract a piece of needle that had broken off in a person’s neck when that person tried to inject heroin.

Events such as Wednesday’s shows that members of the Santa Clarita Valley community are aware of the heroin issue facing local residents and are willing to take steps and address it, said Cary Quashen, founder and executive director of Action Family Counseling.

“We here in Santa Clarita don’t have any more drugs than any other city in the country,” Quashen said. “But we talk about it more here in Santa Clarita than in any other city.”

Though progress has been made on addressing the issue, there have been two deaths in the Santa Clarita Valley as a result of drug overdoses so far this year compared to 16 last year, panelists said there is still more that needs to be done.

“So far this year we’ve had two fatalities,” said Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin. “But that is still two too many.”
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