Every year the city of Santa Clarita hosts a parent resource symposium inviting parents, guardians, teachers and youth to learn more about the dangers of drugs. This year’s symposium was titled, “Chasing the High,” and took place on Friday to focus on this as well as the risk that fentanyl poses.
“I don’t think people realize the parameters are dangerous,” said Mayor Laurene Weste. “The thing is, there are treatments for every kind of addiction under the sun, but with fentanyl, a grain or two over, and you’re just dead.”
The symposium began with a resource fair in which organizations, such as DFY in SCV, presented information on the dangers and risks of drug use. Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies were also present to directly answer any questions and have educational conversations with attendees.
The fentanyl crisis has been a rising topic of concern in Santa Clarita and has been cited many times in City Council meetings. Within the past year, there have been 23 deaths in Santa Clarita due to fentanyl overdoses, according to sheriff’s Capt. Justin Diez.
Parent Rocio Chua was unaware of how close to home the fentanyl crisis had gotten until the City Council candidate forum hosted by The Signal on Wednesday.
“I didn’t know how many people had died in Santa Clarita, our youth, just from this, so I guess that brought it closer to home,” said Chua.
Chua homeschools her children and, prior to this awareness, she had no worry about her kids being exposed to drugs or fentanyl.
“The fact that you don’t have to be a drug addict to be exposed to something unknowingly, and any innocent kid could just come into proximity with it and end up dead or severely sick,” said Chua. “I just wanted to learn more about it.”
The city and sheriff’s deputies held a presentation to present attendees with all the information they need to increase their awareness.
Weste opened the presentation by providing statistics to help attendees understand how fentanyl is a concern nationwide and in the SCV.
“According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the leading cause of death for people 18 to 45 last year was fentanyl overdoses,” said Weste. “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Not only is this drug highly addictive, but it is incredibly deadly.”
The presentation also featured a showing of, “Dead on Arrival” (fentanyl documentary), in which one Santa Clarita family was featured.
Attendees were able to text in questions to be answered by the enlisted experts from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department school resource department, juvenile intervention team and mental evaluation team.
The main goal for the parent symposium was to have parents leave with all the resources they need to educate their youth.
“The one thing is they have to talk to their kids,” said Diez. “If you ignore it and say, ‘My kid wouldn’t do that,’ you have to teach them about the dangers of pills, marijuana, hard drugs, and then tell them, like the mayor said, if you’re not getting something from the pharmacist and it’s coming from your buddy, it’s probably going to be laced.”