By Councilmember Marsha McLean
Heroin is a danger to our children in Santa Clarita. A weekend of overdoses and a death this spring highlight this dangerous reality. In 2015 nearly 13,000 people lost their lives to heroin/opioid use in the United States, 11 of those here in our City. At the same time, heroin-related arrests among youth ages 11 to 17 increased last year. It is up to all of us to put an end to heroin use and as a City Council we continue to fight against this epidemic. It is difficult to talk to your kids about the dangers of heroin and other drugs, but it is necessary.
To get the important conversation started about the real dangers of heroin and drug use I want to invite each and every one of you – and your children – to join us for the Parent Resource Symposium on Wednesday, September 13, at 6 p.m. While this event, which is part of the Heroin Kills initiative, has had different names in the past, such as Pills Kill and Teen Brain on Pot, this year’s Parent Resource Symposium will focus on drug laws and trends, as well as common issues affecting teenagers today. The event will once again be held at The Centre, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, and will be free for all attendees.
The evening will begin with an informational and educational Resource Fair, which will allow you to learn more about services offered in Santa Clarita and how to get help if you or a loved one needs it. Following the Resource Fair, at approximately 6:30 p.m., we will hold a drug prevention panel discussion. The panel will consist of professionals who will be able to share their insight into drug use, abuse and recovery.
Captain Robert Lewis of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station will be joined by Dr. Darrin Privett, Emergency Medicine, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. The panel will also include Sandy Logan, Prevention Coordinator with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, and Brenda Tumasone, an addiction counselor, brain health coach and local parent. Our four panelists will share important information about the effects of drug use on the body, warning signs to watch out for and ways for parents and their teens to get help when it is needed.
For years, our community has grappled with the problem of drug use and abuse, especially of opioids. Santa Clarita is not unique in having to confront this issue. In fact, opioid abuse has become a national epidemic and continues to draw the attention of elected officials and medical professionals working to keep our cities safe and healthy.
In 2011, our city took a holistic approach to the problem and launched the Heroin Kills program. Heroin Kills is a multi-faceted campaign focusing on education and outreach opportunities for youth and parents in Santa Clarita. While the City has seen a dramatic decrease in heroin-related deaths since the implementation of the Heroin Kills initiative, we know that the program remains vitally important. The yearly symposiums focus on the most prevalent and important topic regarding drug use for that specific year.
Please take the time to attend the Parent Resource Symposium and have an open conversation with your children about the dangers of drugs and how to avoid what can be tempting and difficult situations. This topic is too important to ignore and this event should not be missed. For more information about the Parent Resource Symposium, please visit HeroinKills.org.
Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].