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SANTA CLARITA (CBS) — The use of heroin among teenagers in Santa Clarita is on the rise, but the city is fighting back to let young people know that trying the drug just once will end in addiction, and possibly even death.
It was standing room only Tuesday night at a presentation and panel discussion put on by city officials. Parents and recovering addicts shared heartbreaking stories with a crowd of roughly 500 people.
“The last time I physically got to kiss my son, tell him I love him, was on a gurney before the coroner took him away from me,” Krissy McAfee told a packed crowd.
In April 2011, Jeff and Loree Lage lost their 22-year-old son, Cameron, to a short battle with heroin addition.
“That one time, he overdosed and nobody helped him, and he died in his car by himself,” Loree Lage shared.
The symposium focused on informing families about the growing problem within the community.
According to the latest numbers, heroin use has become a big problem nationwide, as well as in the Santa Clarita Valley. Last year, there were 100 arrests and there have been nine overdose deaths since the end of 2009. The Signal reports that approximately 400 residents have suffered non-fatal overdoses in the past year and a half.
“We’ve had more heroin overdoses than we’ve had fatal traffic collisions and these are all 18- to 27-year-olds,” Capt. Paul Becker of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department told CBS2.
“OxyContin’s where it starts at, you know. OxyContin is right before the heroin,” recovering addict 18-year-old Robbie Kraskian told the crowd. “The first time I ever did it was in high school, actually. It’s brought into schools, it’s brought into towns. It just comes here, and it’s with a vengeance.”
The meeting stressed that drug use and addiction can hit families anywhere, even in family-oriented communities like Valencia.
Councilman Frank Ferry told families that after teenagers use heroin one time “they’re either going to be addicted or dead.”
One young woman stepped forward to share her own heroin problem after hearing from the panelists.