Santa Clarita Valley like the rest of Southern California is facing a problem with the rise of drug usage. This year alone in SCV there have been a reported six deaths from heroin overdose.
More than 50 percent of arrests in SCV are drug related.
Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department created the Juvenile Intervention Team (J-Team) two years ago to help stop drug usage. The J-Team is part of Narcotics and its objective is to battle the drug problem beginning with youths aged 12 years old and over.
Heroin usage has begun to rise in SCV and across the country.
Deputy Bill Velek of the J-Team said, “We [Sheriff Officers] have seen a rise in opiate use some as pharmaceuticals or heroin. The rise in opiate use has been seen across the country.
The majority of heroin began with marijuana or alcohol.
Sergeant Bob Wachsmuth of the J-Team said, “We [Sgt. Wachsmuth and Deputy Velek] talked to a lot of kids and say ‘Why did you go to heroin in Santa Clarita?’ and it is because the marijuana high wasn’t good enough anymore.”
The J-Team work with the Action Family Organization to help get drug addicts clean. Cary Quashen created the Action Family Organization thirty years ago, after he overcame his drug addiction.
Cary Quashen said, “There is different, stronger and better drugs today. When you have different, stronger and better drugs you also have more deadly drugs.
“They [drugs] are whole lot different today, meaning that you take one and before you know it you are addicted. We’re [Action Family] actually treating more accidental addicts today.”
Family intervention and involvement is the most successful way in order to help the addicts battle their addiction.
Quashen said, “The quicker you [families of drug addicts] intervene the better I get calls from parents all the time when they are dealing with their youngsters and their saying ‘I don’t want to overreact.’ How the hell can you overreact when you have a fifteen year old kid that is smoking crystal meth or drinking tequila? You can’t.”
An Action Family counselor Mindy M. who is one year sober said, “There was a good six month period where I told myself everyday ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ What I believe the disease of addiction does to you it takes such a strong hold of you….you literally don’t have a choice and you can’t stop it.
“I have heard a lot of people say this ‘there is a point when you can stop and then you get to a point where you do want to stop and you can’t.'”