header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
46°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 28
1850 - Death Valley '49er William Robinson dies in Soledad Canyon from drinking too much cool water [story]
Leaving Death Valley


| Monday, Aug 31, 2020
opioid epidemic
Jaime Puerta kneels next to the display he set up on his lawn in Santa Clarita on Saturday for his son, Daniel J. Puerta-Johnson, who died of fentanyl poisoning in April 2020, on August 29, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

 

Santa Clarita Valley experts and family of victims of the opioid epidemic are saying historical patterns of abuse are repeating themselves.

Cary Quashen, the founder of Action Drug Rehabs and a nationally recognized expert in the field of addiction and drug abuse, said Saturday the problem of substance reliance has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.

Fentanyl cut with drugs, such as heroin and other opioids, has become an issue in Santa Clarita Valley during recent weeks as it has in past years. While the SCV Sheriff’s Station cannot give an exact number to the number of overdoses they’ve encountered in the last few weeks, Shirley Miller, a spokeswoman for the station, said the number of cases has increased.

“It’s Russian Roulette,” Quashen said. “If it’s cut a little bit too much or they use a little bit too much, they’re dead.”

In 2017, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital officials stood alongside SCV Sheriff’s Station officials while introducing the public to Narcan, a drug that on-duty deputies would use to prevent a fatality if they arrive on the scene during an active overdose.

Currently, under federal law, narcotics, such as marijuana and peyote, are considered Schedule I drugs, while fentanyl is considered a Schedule II. The Drug Enforcement Agency says on its website that the schedules are determined by the drug’s “acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential.”

This type of thinking, Jaime Puerta said, led to him finding his son on the floor, blue around the lips, in his room on the morning of March 30. On April 6, Daniel Joseph-Johnson, at the age of 16, was pronounced dead from a suspected fentanyl overdose.

According to his father, his son was not a drug or alcohol abuser. However, the night before his father found him on the floor unconscious, his son had gone out to buy a codeine pill from a drug dealer, which unbeknownst to Joseph-Johnson, had been cut with a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“I want people to understand that people are dying because they are being poisoned by fentanyl,” said Puerta. “He was my only son, my only son. I’ll never see him graduate from high school, I’ll never see him go off to college, I’ll never see him walk down the aisle to get married, I’ll never see my grandchildren. … I will never be able to see the beautiful human being that he would have turned out to be, because that kid had a heart of gold.

“He didn’t deserve this,” Puerta tearfully added.

opioid epidemic

Jaime Puerta set up the display on his lawn in Santa Clarita on Saturday for his son, Daniel J. Puerta-Johnson who died of fentanyl poisoning in April 2020, on August 29, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

Only taking half of the pill, which had a “30 milligram” mark on the back, along with an imprinted “M” — giving it the appearance of legitimate-grade pharmaceutical drugs — was enough to kill Joseph-Johnson, as fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Between 2014 and 2015, the Ohio Drug Submission Testing program saw a 196% increase in illicitly manufactured fentanyl use, and this discovery led the CDC to determine that illegally manufactured fentanyl is “the main driver of the recent increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone.”

“A lot of the times, I hear the addict say, ‘Well, my dealer wouldn’t sell that,’” Quashen said. “Sometimes, even the dealer doesn’t even know what it’s cut with because they just get it from their source.”

Quashen said the first step to solving this problem is realizing we’re in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and that the COVID-19 pandemic is not helping things.

“You have got to watch what is going on with anxiety levels as high as they are right now,” he said. “People are freaking out and getting into serious bad habits that can become life-threatening.”

Quashen said the next step to helping end the recurrence of overdoses in Santa Clarita is to teach children about the dangers of drug use early on.

“We have two different types of addicts … they started smoking cigarettes and then they started smoking weed and then they started with other drugs,” Quashen said. “But we’re treating another kind of attitude, too, which I call an accidental addict. Meaning, they had back surgery, they went to the hospital, before they were discharged they were on IVs … and they left the hospital with a bottle of whatever pills.

“Before you know it, these drugs are great, pain meds are great; you’re in pain, they help you,” he added. “But after a couple weeks, you become physically addicted to these things, and if you’re still in pain, what do you do? You got to find your drugs.”

Doctors, Quashen said, have become more conscious of the level of opioids they’re prescribing, and using more discretion on when to prescribe them. However, it takes a universal awareness in order to solve this issue, the founder of Action Drug Rehabs said.

“Nobody is immune to this,” he said. “Any kind of street drugs that you’re using right now has a high probability, especially with the amount of overdoses we have right now, of having fentanyl.”

opioid epidemic

Jaime Puerta stands next to the display he set up on his lawn in Santa Clarita on Saturday for his son Daniel J. Puerta-Johnson who died of fentanyl poisoning in April 2020, 082920 Dan Watson/The Signal

Daniel Joseph Puerta-Johnson

In an effort to prevent what happened to his family from happening to others, Puerta has spearheaded a campaign to change a number of laws and attitudes surrounding fentanyl.

The father said one of the three points in his campaign is to ensure his son’s drug dealer, and those who supply victims with fentanyl-laced drugs, should face consequences similar to that of a murderer or person charged with manslaughter.

“One, is that we need to get drug-induced homicide laws in California to hold people accountable for it; two, it’s not only affecting drug addicts, but it’s affecting first-time users and recreation users; and three that the problem is bigger than anybody thinks,” Puerta said.

In honor to his son and also a demonstration of his commitment to his cause, Puerta has placed an empty chair on his lawn, with a picture of his son’s face stuck to the front of it. Surrounding the empty chair are two signs, with one demanding that “every suspected drug toxicity death warrants a criminal investigation.”

“The chair and the signage will not come down until my son’s murderer is caught, tried and jailed,” he said.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021
SCV Under Flash Flood Watch, Lake Hughes to Prepare for Possible Evacuations
The National Weather Service placed the Santa Clarita Valley on a Flash Flood Watch for Thursday, Jan. 28, as the valley is expected to see heavy rains and possible thunderstorms during the next few days.
Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021
Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: 113th Death at Henry Mayo; County Cases, Hospitalizations Down
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 307 new deaths and 6,917 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 countywide, and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia late Tuesday reported its 113th COVID fatality since the pandemic began.
Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021
Audit Slams California Employment Department Over Pandemic Failings
Nearly a year into a pandemic that gobbled up millions of jobs and caused double-digit jobless rates, California's Employment Development Department is still mired one of the largest — and most costly — bureaucratic failures in state history.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1850 - Death Valley '49er William Robinson dies in Soledad Canyon from drinking too much cool water [story]
Leaving Death Valley
The National Weather Service placed the Santa Clarita Valley on a Flash Flood Watch for Thursday, Jan. 28, as the valley is expected to see heavy rains and possible thunderstorms during the next few days.
SCV Under Flash Flood Watch, Lake Hughes to Prepare for Possible Evacuations
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 307 new deaths and 6,917 new cases of confirmed COVID-19 countywide, and Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia late Tuesday reported its 113th COVID fatality since the pandemic began.
Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: 113th Death at Henry Mayo; County Cases, Hospitalizations Down
The MAIN’s latest virtual series, “Food Sessions,” will return with a mouthwatering new episode on Thursday, January 28, at 7 p.m.
Jan. 28: The Main to Dish Up New Episode of ‘Food Sessions’
Nearly a year into a pandemic that gobbled up millions of jobs and caused double-digit jobless rates, California's Employment Development Department is still mired one of the largest — and most costly — bureaucratic failures in state history.
Audit Slams California Employment Department Over Pandemic Failings
Santa Clarita Public Library officials have announced the return of their popular annual reading program, "One Story One City," with a delicious new book selection.
Santa Clarita Library Opens 2021 ‘One Story One City’ Reading Program with ‘Eat Joy’
Caltrans officials announced shortly before noon on Wednesday that the Grapevine had reopened for through traffic with California Highway Patrol escorts.
Grapevine Reopened with CHP Escorts After Latest Storm
BioSolar, Inc. (OTC: BSRC), a Santa Clarita-based developer of green energy technologies, announced Sunday that it has entered into a securities purchase agreement with a single institutional investor to purchase in a private placement offering 83,333,334 shares of common stock (or common stock equivalents in lieu thereof) and warrants to purchase up to an aggregate of 83,333,334 shares of common stock.
BioSolar Rebrands as NewHydrogen Inc., Places $5M Private Offering
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors learned Tuesday there are four legal options for removing county Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who has been accused of a lack of leadership and obstructing oversight, among other issues.
Supes Hear Options for Removing Villanueva; Barger in Firm Opposition
California Public Utilities Commission members asked Southern California Edison officials to address the power company’s “mistakes” and “operational gaps” that led to widespread power shutoffs over the past few months, during a webcast meeting Tuesday.
State Officials Grill SoCal Edison About ‘Mistakes,’ ‘Operational Gaps’ During Power Shutoffs
Raymond Magana of Santa Clarita pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal criminal charge that he fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in Paycheck Protection Program or PPP loans for his sham companies by submitting fake tax documents and fraudulent employee information.
Raymond Magana of Santa Clarita Pleads Guilty to Fraud After Receiving $1M in PPP Loans
On Tuesday, California's non-partisan State Auditor released the results of an audit of the Employment Development Department or EDD originally called for by members of the Senate Republican Caucus last summer.
Scathing California EDD Audit Prompts Bipartisan Call for Response
On behalf of more than two dozen partner agencies, Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office announced the results of "Operation Lost Angels,” an initiative which began on January 11 and recently culminated in the recovery of 33 children.
Multi-Agency ‘Operation Lost Angels’ Recovers 33 Missing Children
1970 - Gov. Ronald Reagan appoints Adrian Adams as Newhall's first "second" judge [story]
Adrian Adams
Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley took part in the “Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women” campaign from Nov. 25 - Dec. 10, 2020.
Zonta Club’s 16 Days of Activism Receives Proclamation from City
One year ago (Tuesday), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced its first case of the novel coronavirus.
L.A. County COVID-19 One Year Later: 15,592 Deaths; 1,085,044 Total Cases
With COVID-19 vaccine appointments booked at Los Angeles County sites through the end of the week, Public Health officials assured those who received their first dose are guaranteed their second — but confusion over the scheduling process prompted officials to clarify the situation Tuesday.
Confusion on Second Dose Scheduling Prompts County Officials to Offer Clarity
CBRE announced the sale of Sierra Crest Center, a neighborhood retail and office center in Santa Clarita, to a joint venture group for $9.9 million.
Sierra Crest Retail Center Sold for $9.9 Million
Built in the 19th century, the Pioneer Oil Refinery in Newhall played a pivotal role in the early development of the Santa Clarita Valley.
Newhall’s Pioneer Oil Refinery Recognized as Historic Site
The Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees will hold a video/teleconferencing special meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, Jan. 27, beginning with a closed session at 4:00 p.m., followed immediately by open session at 5:00 p.m.
Jan. 27: Santa Clarita Community College District Virtual Special Meeting
Five Point Holdings, LLC recently announced the sale of additional homesites at its Valencia community, previously known as Newhall Ranch, and the lineup of homebuilders for the first phase of the community.
Five Point Holdings Sells Nearly 500 New Homesites in Valencia
As COVID-19 vaccination continues for health care workers and those over 65, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday California is looking to prioritize the next phases of vaccination efforts by age, rather than occupation.
California May Switch to Age-Based COVID-19 Vaccination System
Tejon Ranch Co. declared victory for its 8,000-acre Grapevine mixed-use development after a Kern County Superior Court judge ruled against an Arizona-based environmental group that dubbed the project “damaging.”
Judge Rules Against Environmentalists Over Grapevine Development
1990 - "Duplicates" premieres at L.A. Phil; concerto by CalArts Music School dean Mel Powell wins Pulitzer Prize [story]
Mel Powell
%d bloggers like this: