Less than 10 days before Christmas, another Santa Clarita Valley family lost a son to the heroin epidemic.
It wasn’t an overdose, but a growing concern that’s associated with the drug epidemic. The 29-year-old died of endocarditis, which, like the Hepatitis B he’d also contracted, was brought on by intravenous drug use.
He’d been arrested several times, and like many who are addicted to drugs in the Santa Clarita Valley, he was known to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile Intervention Team, or J-Team, which had tried repeatedly to get him into a rehab program.
“In June, I had contacted the guy and he was very cordial, we had a very cordial conversation and I offered him our help in finding a drug counseling program that would fit his financial situation,” said Sgt. Bob Wachsmuth, a drug addiction specialist and member of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Juvenile-Intervention Team, or J-Team. “And he said he would get back to me.”
Relapses and repeated use bring with them a myriad of concerns and medical problems beyond the deadly overdose.
“Using drugs themselves, obviously are pretty dangerous,” said Dr. Darrin Privett, an emergency room doctor for Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, “but on top of that there’s a host of complication that can make that even more dangerous.”
The most common things that emergency room doctors see are the painful infections that addicts can get from intravenous drug use, he said.
“Most commonly they get local abscesses where they inject in the skin,” he said. “The veins themselves get inflamed and scarred.. and then there are other associated diseases, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.”
Studies have shown that 75 percent to 90 percent of people who inject drugs have Hepatitis C, he pointed out.
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