Tack­ling the prob­lem

Par­ents and pro­fes­sion­als dis­cuss drugs at an­nual city event

The Signal - - FRONT PAGE - By Gina En­der Sig­nal Staff Writer

About 50 par­ents, teens and com­mu­nity mem­bers had an open talk about drugs at the city’s 7th an­nual Par­ent Re­source Sym­po­sium on Wed­nes­day night.

Through an ed­u­ca­tional re­source fair and panel dis­cus­sion, at­ten­dees got a look at the im­pact drug use and abuse has, em­pha­siz­ing pre­ven­tion, is­sues and trends in Santa Clarita.

“Be­ing ‘awe­some town’ doesn’t mean pre­tend­ing noth­ing is go­ing on,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said. “We don’t want to sug­ar­coat this. We want it to be as real as pos­si­ble.”

The sym­po­sium is part of the city’s Heroin Kills pro­gram, which won the He­len Put­nam Pub­lic Safety Award this year.

All four panel mem­bers are par­ents and shared their ex­per­tise from their fields and from hav­ing chil­dren of their own.

To com­bat the city’s drug prob­lem, it is crit­i­cal for lo­cals to take ac­tion and part­ner with law en­force­ment, ac­cord­ing to Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Depart­ment’s Cap­tain Robert Lewis.

“If we don’t be­come com­pas­sion­ate as a com­mu­nity, we will not make a dif­fer­ence in Santa Clarita,” Lewis said.

Fore­most, Lewis said his duty is to de­fend the law, but he wants to help peo­ple who are us­ing drugs get clean, which is pri­mar­ily ex­e­cuted through the depart­ment’s ju­ve­nile in­ter­ven­tion teams

“I’m try­ing to get them help in­stead of put­ting hand­cuffs on them,” he said.

Brenda Tu­ma­sone, a drug de­pen­dence and ad­dic­tion coun­selor, shared the story of how drug ad­dic­tion took her son’s life.

Be­cause of de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, Tu­ma­sone’s teenage son be­gan us­ing drugs, turn­ing him from a 4.0 stu­dent ath­lete with a close bond to his fam­ily and friends to a dis­tant and dis­in­ter­ested per­son.

“There were signs and symp­toms that we min­i­mized, glossed over and chalked up to him be­ing the first child,” Tu­ma­sone said. “We found ways to jus­tify all th­ese sud­den changes.”

Since her son was not overtly trou­ble­some, Tu­ma­sone said she did not feel like she had a rea­son to ask him about his strange be­hav­ior.

“I wasn’t los­ing my mind, but he was los­ing his right be­fore my eyes,” she said. “You’re a par­ent. You don’t need a rea­son to check in, you don’t need a rea­son to ask.”

Fear of judge­ment from friends and neigh­bors should not al­low par­ents to sweep the prob­lem un­der the rug, Tu­ma­sone said.

There are a va­ri­ety of rea­sons a teen would use drugs, in­clud­ing anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, stress, pain, com­pet­i­tive­ness, ex­per­i­men­ta­tion or a de­sire to fit in, ac­cord­ing to Henry Mayo Ne­whall Hos­pi­tal’s Dr. Darrin Priv­ett.

Drugs are es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous to teens be­cause the hu­man brain is still de­vel­op­ing un­til age 26, Priv­ett said, mak­ing them chem­i­cally de­pen­dent on drugs more quickly.

“Drug abuse is a pre­ventable be­hav­ior and ad­dic­tion is a treat­able dis­ease,” Priv­ett said.

Sandy Lo­gan from the Na­tional Coun­cil on Al­co­holism said her goal was to al­le­vi­ate par­ents’ fear of hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about drugs with their kids.

“I want you to leave here feel­ing em­pow­ered,” Lo­gan said.

Jim Miller, who worked for the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment for 25 years, brought his two teenage chil­dren to the sym­po­sium to so­lid­ify the les­sons he has taught them about drugs.

“This is reaf­firm­ing ev­ery­thing I have told my kids grow­ing up,” Miller said. “It’s not just me talk­ing, it’s the com­mu­nity.”

Va­len­cia High School teacher Donna Lee said she hoped to get equipped with re­sources she could share with her stu­dents.

“I want to be that per­son to throw them a life­jacket,” Lee said.

Af­ter los­ing her hus­band to a heroin over­dose in April, Kristin Ghi­lardi said she at­tended the sym­po­sium to see what steps the city is tak­ing to tackle drug use.

“I wanted to see how the com­mu­nity is pre­sent­ing the prob­lem,” Ghi­lardi said.

In­stead of hold­ing an event for just par­ents and teens, Ghi­lardi said she thinks it would be valu­able to in­vite peo­ple strug­gling with ad­di­tion as well. With the in­for­ma­tion she gath­ered, she hoped to pro­vide re­sources for her hus­band’s friends and oth­ers strug­gling with ad­dic­tion.

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal

Doug As­ton, front, tries to walk a straight line while wear­ing im­pair­ment sim­u­la­tion gog­gles at the start of the Par­ent Re­source Sym­po­sium at the Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day.

Katharine Lotze/The Sig­nal (See ad­di­tional photos at sig­nalscv.com)

Santa Clarita Val­ley Sher­iff’s Sta­tion’s Cap­tain Robert Lewis speaks to those gath­ered at the Par­ent Re­source Sym­po­sium at the Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.