Drug addiction counselor: Two more SCV people died of overdoses


Drugs claimed the lives of two Santa Clarita Valley residents this past weekend, according to the man who has been alerting the public these past few weeks about killer batches of heroin in the SCV.

A man in his early 30s and a woman in her late 20s died of drug overdoses in separate unrelated incidents since Friday, said Cary Quashen, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Executive Director of Behavioral Health and Director of Action Family Counseling

Quashen, who deals with addicts daily, was alerted by a member of the deceased person’s family about the respective deaths.

It was not confirmed Monday if either of the deaths involved heroin.

“A lot of the individuals who lose their lives to overdoses were clean and sober for a long period of time,” he said.

“They pick it up again for whatever reason,” he said about addicts who relapse.

“And, what happens is, their body can’t handle what their mind wants,” he said.

Checks Monday with both the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner and the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station revealed that the two deaths did not occur in the SCV.

Investigator Bob Wachsmuth, who retired from his post with the Juvenile Intervention Team at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, was brought back to the J-Team in December, he told The Signal Monday.

Wachsmuth was appointed by former Capt. Paul Becker in 2012 as part of the push to stem the tide of heroin use.

Alarmed by the numbers of overdose cases in the SCV, civic leaders rallied with Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies and addiction treatment officials such as Quashen to hold public forums and pursue drug aversion programs in 2013.

The result: The numbers dropped drastically. Four reported heroin deaths in 2013, six in 2014. The number of people killed by heroin, however, in 2015 almost doubled .

Quashen is hoping that heightened awareness will – again – stem the tide on drug overdoses in the SCV.

 Overdose upsurge

For the past month, he has been advocating for the public to become more aware of a particularly strong batch of heroin in circulation throughout the SCV since late last month.

On Apr. 25, he spoke at a press conference about the nationwide heroin-opioid epidemic at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, the day after eight patients had been treated at the hospital for heroin overdoses and two days after the body of David Alexander Esquivel, 28, was found in the restroom of Bouquet Canyon Park.

The latest statistics released by the California Department of Public Health show a sharp upturn in the number of heroin overdose deaths across the state since 2012.

There were 561 heroin-related deaths in 2014 compared to 355 reported in 2011. By comparison, however, there were 1,449 deaths attributed to opioid overdoses in 2014 compared to 1,563 in 2011.

In the Santa Clarita Valley, heroin claimed the lives of 11 people in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2015.

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