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Home » Santa Clarita News » Santa Clarita Heroin Deaths Down As ACTION Plans For Sober Summer
Santa Clarita Heroin Deaths Down As ACTION Plans For Sober Summer

Santa Clarita Heroin Deaths Down As ACTION Plans For Sober Summer

Monday’s ‘Families in ACTION’ Show on KHTS Focuses on Staying Sober During School Break

Heroin and prescription drug deaths are down among young people in Santa Clarita.By Stephen K. Peeples

Deaths due to heroin and prescription drug overdoses in the Santa Clarita Valley have dropped by more than half in 2013 compared to 2012, according to SCV Sheriff’s Station authorities. Now that the school spring semester is over, Santa Clarita-based ACTION Family Counseling drug and alcohol rehab experts urge parents and teens to keep that positive trend going by having a sober summer.

ACTION rehab counselor Bob Sharits will host a special “Sober Summer” edition of ACTION’s weekly “Families in ACTION” program Monday at noon. The show will air live on Santa Clarita radio station AM 1220 KHTS in the Santa Clarita Valley and simultaneously stream live on the Web everywhere else at

“The topic is going to be what parents should look for during the summer months to help keep their kids safe,” Sharits said. “Certainly, kids think they have gained some freedom (away) from school, the parents are just working as usual, and there’s less time spent under any kind of supervision. So kids tend to get into a little bit more trouble during the summer. There’s a lot more drinking and drug use and things like that going on with the younger crowd just because there’s less supervision.”

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Santa Clarita Overdose Deaths Down in 2013 Compared to 2012

As detailed in KHTS News’ ongoing “It Takes a Village” series of features about drug use and abuse in the Santa Clarita Valley, a spike in heroin abuse and overdose deaths in 2010 and 2011 prompted a concerted, community-wide anti-drug effort.

Concerned parents and citizens, the city of Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District and ACTION Family Counseling joined forces and resources in late summer 2011.

RELATED: Read the ‘Families in Action’ editorials by Founder/CEO Cary Quashen at

ACTION Family Counseling hosts 'Familes in ACTION'In 2012, the first full year all programs were in place but still gaining traction, 14 people died of opiate-related causes in the Santa Clarita Valley, according to Bob Wachsmuth, the SCV Sheriff’s Station J-Team (juvenile team) detective who tracks those deaths.

Of those 14, four were heroin overdoses; the rest overdosed on opiate-related prescription drugs like Oxycontin. All previous cases pending toxicology results have been resolved, so the number of deaths stands at 14 for 2012, Wachsmuth said.

In just the first five months of 2012, through May 31, there were five overdose deaths in the SCV — one by heroin, four by pills.

In the same period in 2013, only two people have died from overdoses, both by heroin, Wachsmuth said.

Cautious Optimism Santa Clarita’s Concerted Anti-Drug Effort is Working

“It’s too early to say with any certainty, but it would appear that all the different programs in place are having an effect – education, enforcement and diversion,” Wachsmuth said.

Sharits agreed. “I believe that (reduction is) attributed to the collaboration efforts between us, ACTION Family Counseling and the school district and the Sheriff’s Department and the city of Santa Clarita, and all of the concerned citizens coming together and talking about this sometimes-difficult-to-talk-about issue,” he said.

No Summer Break for Addiction: Stay Vigilant

“I think we need to certainly keep doing that during the summer,” Sharits said. “Just because we have a summer break from school doesn’t mean addiction’s going to take a break. We need to keep our efforts going forward, keeping talking about it, keep offering kids alternative programs and support groups and things like that, and helping parents become even more aware of what the pressing problems are, the new trends to watch for.

“And kudos to everybody in Santa Clarita for being such an awesome community when it comes to combating this problem,” he said. “Let’s just keep up the good work.”

For more information about Action Family Counseling, call 800-367-8336 or visit the organization’s website.

Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or drop us a line at

Source: Santa Clarita News

Santa Clarita Heroin Deaths Down As ACTION Plans For Sober Summer

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