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Heroin: one year after

City holds symposium to reflect on one-year anniversay of fight against heroin abuse

Posted: August 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 30, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Det. Bill Velek, center, and Dep. Joe Crilly, right, of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station's Juvenile Intervention Team demonstrate how drugs can be hidden in ordinary household items, including a lint remover roller, as Marla Mosco, left, listens during the "Heroin Kills: One Year Later" symposium at the Santa Clarita Activities Cen...

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Hundreds turned out for what city officials hoped would be a sobering event for parents and children Wednesday, during their Heroin Kills: One Year Later symposium.

The event was part of a one-year retrospective by the city on its effort to combat heroin abuse. And by most measures, there’s still a lot of work to be done, officials said.

“We’re still on the uphill side,” said Capt. Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. “We’re doing well on the enforcement side of things, we’re doing well on the intervention side of things. But on the education side, we’ve been lacking.”

Becker was the first of a six-speaker panel to address the standing room only crowd inside the Santa Clarita Sports Complex. He drew applause when he announced the recent arrest of a Valencia man believed to be supplying heroin to at least 10 individuals.

But there were also a few less crowd-pleasing numbers.

While there were eight deaths in 2011, there have been nine deaths directly attributed to heroin in 2012, so far, Becker said. An additional four suicides have been linked to heroin.

Doctors have treated 380 heroin overdoses in the last year, according to Dr. Darrin Privitt, a physician who works in the emergency room at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

“It’s very prevalent,” said Akhil Chrukupally, a 17-year-old senior at Academy of the Canyons. “I think a lot of people underestimate the fact that heroin is an abused drug in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Prevention education was a theme repeated throughout the evening, by the experts, parents and addicts, and the only way officials can make a difference, Becker said.

“We can kick in doors all day long, but unless we attack the demand...” he said.  

A new program coordinated by officials from the city, the Sheriff’s Station and the William S. Hart Union High School District aims to educate students, encourage peer discussion and help track results.

The program, known as Drug Free Youth in Town, or DFYiT, will kick off at Valencia High School on Friday with an event sponsored by all three sponsoring public agencies.


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