Fighting Addiction In Our Own Backyard

We’ve got to hand it to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. Our own local paper has done a tremendous job of bringing addiction to the forefront and bravely reporting on stories that many other community news outlets refuse to touch. In 2018 alone, they’ve shared multiple stories about neighborhood heroes who battled and beat their dependencies, as well as local event announcements aimed to educate Newhall residents about the dangers of the opioid crisis.


As we’ve said many times before, we are extremely proud to be part of the Santa Clarita community. Our Newhall facility has become tremendously accommodating, thanks very much to the tranquil, homespun environment where it sits. And did we mention that we’re ranked one of the safest cities in California? Well that’s a story for another time, as today we’re putting our attention toward The Signal and the incredible work their writers are doing.


One of their stories that recently caught our attention focused on longtime SCV resident Larry Huddleston. Larry bravely put a face to the localized opioid crisis and shared his story of addiction and recovery. An Air Force veteran who suffered back pain after the service, he eventually found himself hooked on fentanyl; taking as many as 100 painkillers a month.


Huddleston’s innocent prescription quickly escalated into a full-blown addiction, which nearly destroyed his personal life and career. But, as we mentioned before, Larry is a true success story and fought back against his urges; ultimately letting go of his dependency in 2013. Since then, he has become a local recovery advocate and openly shares his story with other Newhall residents.


“There’s a lot that people don’t understand about what this drug really does,” Huddleston told The Signal. “I’ve learned a lot. I don’t judge anybody on this point anymore because I think one of the main things I learned is that people who are physically addicted — they’re treating some kind of pain, I was treating my back pain, and over all that time… I had no idea how much it was numbing that emotional pain — until I stopped.”


And for the record, The Signal puts out stories like these as a regular series; which they title SCV in Recovery. The news site also showcases community action events coming out of Santa Clarita, many times focused on addiction. Just last week, they profiled the Thursday night recovery panels that occur at Valencia Public Library.


The previous event featured speaking sessions from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital’s executive director Cary Quashen. His lecture focused on family members of addicts and preventative measures that can be taken to combat the early stages of opioid addiction. The panel also included local residents who conquered their addictions and are now thriving with a clean and sober lifestyle.


If you haven’t already, we highly recommend following The Signal on social media. And if you don’t live in our neighborhood, make sure to support your own local news outlet and encourage them to profile this devastating crisis. A small article can go a long way…


Supporting The Red Ribbon Campaign

Recently, recovery advocates in our own backyard of Santa Clarita got together to show their support for the national Red Ribbon Campaign. Certainly there are plenty of organizations who make it their mission to battle addiction, but this one is especially unique. Red Ribbon makes a point to highlight the violence that can accompany drug dependencies and, as they put it, the “destructiveness” and collateral damage that using can actually cause.


This mission was launched over 30 years and has drawn the support of some very notable figures (including former First Lady Nancy Reagan). After the 1985 murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, Red Ribbon came together to honor victims who have lost their lives to drug and alcohol related violence. The simple gesture of wearing a pin captured the attention of the nation and, just like week, drew dozens of people to the Action Family Counseling Center on Soledad Canyon Road.


As we’ve reported before, Santa Clarita has had its struggles with addiction and overdoses. At one point, our city received national attention after an overflow of drug-related emergency room visits. So, the community continues to band together to raise awareness and support sobriety.


“This most recent event was held to bring awareness and education to drug usage in and around our community,”  organizer Scott Quashen told reporters from the local Signal newspaper.


This particular Santa Clarita event drew former heroin addicts, social workers, police officials and counselors; all of whom spoke about their experiences with addiction. Proving what a tight-knit group of neighbors we have, SCV Sheriff Station Captain Paul Becker appeared in person and explained how he’s taken the city’s addiction fight down to a personal level.


At the event, Captain Becker went over their station’s Juvenile Team program, which goes to local high schools to speak about drug and alcohol abuse. He also talked about the special “house calls” they make, which work as follow ups for those who have had addiction incidents in the past.


“Rather than arresting, we understand that intervention is a more solution orientated approach to drug usage,” Becker explained to The Signal. “We certainly encourage our officers to take this approach when dealing with certain situations.”


But, as we mentioned before, the primary focus of this meeting was Red Ribbon and honoring those who are no longer with us. Taking a page from their official site, reps shared details about the unique pledge this organization abides by.


  1. As parents and citizens, we will talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug abuse.
  2. We will set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.
  3. We will set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.
  4. We will monitor our children’s behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so that our rules are respected.
  5. We will encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.


You can learn more about Red Ribbon and their pledge, by clicking here.


Heroin Strain Wreaking Havoc Across Santa Clarita

If you’ve been following our blogs, then you know that we report on a lot of different stories. But when one of those stories hits close to him, it becomes especially meaningful. Recently, several local news outlets have been reporting about a deadly heroin strain that has been hitting our neighbors throughout the Santa Clarita Valley. So far, it has claimed one life and hospitalized at least seven others.


The issue has become so serious that a local press conference was held, which included professionals from the Henry Mayo Hospital in Newhall. Emergency room physician, Dr. Bud Lawrence, shared some powerful words with a room full of L.A. reporters.


“In one night, we had a total of eight cases of patients who came in with overdoses of opiates, of heroin,” he explained. “From a public health standpoint, for the emergency department this is of concern to us, that there may be something out there the public would be aware of.”


It’s certainly a scary stat, especially when you consider there were only a handful of fatal heroin overdoses in the county just two years ago. Now, dozens of OD’s are being admitted to local ER’s on a nightly basis.


Santa Clarita narcotics officers were on hand for the conference, as well. They were very stern with their warnings, emphasizing that even first time heroin users could find themselves in a lethal situation because of this unknown strain.


“When you stick a needle in your arm, you’re playing Russian roulette,” one representative said. “It’s a really scary deal. Even the dealers sometimes don’t know what it’s cut with. We just don’t know what we’re looking at.”


The most recent casualty from the laced heroin strain was identified as local SCV resident, David Esquivel. Just 28 years old, he was unable to be saved after shooting up just a few hours earlier. Detectives did say that they would be autopsying Esquivel’s body to see what types of chemicals were present in the heroin he ingested.


Regardless, this has gone into full-blown crisis mode. And that fact that it’s in own backyard, hits the point that much harder. Santa Clarita is not a “seedy” back alley section of SoCal, where you’d expect a “stereotypical” heroin user to hang out. This is a community of hard-working middle and upper class families, yet it is clearly NOT IMMUNE to this issue.


We strongly urge anyone in our community battling a heroin or opioid addiction to reach out to us for help. We are close, we are available and we have the technicians and the tools to end this addiction. Call us anytime at 866-986-2486.


And click below to watch the complete Santa Clarita press conference…

Celebrating Our First Year

It’s hard to believe, but this November marks the one year anniversary of Valley Recovery Center. These last 12 months have been amazing and incredibly rewarding. Being able to help hundreds of people through counseling, events, social media, phone calls and, of course, our specialized treatment programs at the Newhall facility.


We thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts and encourage the people reading this blog to join us for our Birthday Celebration on November 10. This Thursday from 2pm-5pm, we’ll be hosting a very special reception at our homebase. That would be 23304 Happy Valley Drive, in Newhall CA 91321. Spaces are still available and we encourage you to RSVP via phone (866-986-2486) or email ( There will be a wide variety of guests from our industry, as well as staff members and alumni who have become part of the larger VRC family.


But back to the subject at hand, What An Incredible Year It Has Been. For starters, we have built an amazing team of doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, nutritionists and more. Visit our Staff Page for a breakdown of talent employed at our facility. Every one of them does an incredible job and has helped build Valley Recovery Center into what it has become today.


We are also incredibly blessed with our Newhall facility. This residence has literally turned lives around. Centered in a safe, quiet community; we’ve been able to provide patients with a space where they can focus, learn, reflect and, most importantly, Get Sober. What we have set out to do (and hopefully achieved) is community building, beginning right within the walls of Happy Valley Drive. This welcoming sanctuary isn’t a hospital room or a sterile office, it’s a home. If you haven’t already, we invite you to take the virtual tour. Or come see it for yourself on November 10!


And let’s not forget the programs that have continued to set us apart. We consider ourselves to be a very progressive treatment facility, meaning we take our patients’ input fully to heart and work to create recovery options that suit their specific needs. Within this past year, we have introduced such groundbreaking techniques as Wolf TherapyYoga and even Archery (all with great success). And, of course, that goes hand-in-hand with traditional methods, such as Making Amends, 12 Steps and Anger Management. The combination of the old and the new has worked wonders and helps our patients feel respected and heard when it comes to their needs.


So the big question becomes…What lies in store for Year Two? Well, let us assure you that Valley Recovery Center is going be around for a Long Time and we are excited to continually evolve. We are constantly attending conventions and seminars, learning about cutting-edge recovery methods to add to our regimen. We also hope to expand our network, bringing more qualified people on board to address any and all addiction issues. And let’s not forget our growing Alumni Program. As we mentioned before, VRC is all about “family” and “community.” We look forward to maintaining relationships with everyone we encounter and, above all, Making a Major Dent in the addiction problems plaguing our country.


Thanks again for your continued support. We look forward celebrating you this Thursday at 23304 Happy Valley Drive!



Spotlight On Dr. Gregory Jenkins

We are proud to say that at Valley Recovery Center, we truly have some of the best recovery professionals in the business. In previous spotlights, we’ve talked about our Nutritionists David and Kristie, as well as our resident Life Coach, Dr. Chaz Austin. Now, we’re proud to shine the spotlight on the brilliant work of our medical consultant, Dr. Gregory Jenkins M.D.


Dr. Jenkins happens to be one of Santa Clarita’s most highly-regarded physicians. He is a proud UCLA grad and has been part of the Newhall community for over two decades. He has also served in multiple capacities as a medical staff leader at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and works as a member of the Medical Staff Executive Board. Locally, he has been recognized as one of the Best in Family Practice, Best in Internal Medicine and Best Urgent Care. Dr. Jenkins also participates in multiple charitable causes, including the Flying Samaritans of Mercy which involves providing medical care to needy patients in Mexico.


Is it any wonder why we’d be so proud to have him on our team? To us, having an accessible, qualified M.D. is essential. Treatments like detox and withdrawal can have serious physical repercussions and you’d be surprised to learn how many other recovery facilities lack the proper medical expertise to treat a situation like that.


The True Benefits Of A Medical Consultant

To help fully flesh out the recovery process, we feel it’s important to explain each role in detail. As we mentioned before, there were informative blogs on the roles of Nutritionists and Life Coaches, but where does the doctor fit in?


Assessments – For starters, a qualified medical professional like Dr. Jenkins can be brought in to assess a new patient’s condition and level of physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Routine screenings can be put in place, which measure a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and vital signs. Though on the surface a new patient can seem functional, underneath they could be in need of immediate medical attention. If Dr. Jenkins were able to see some untreated physical trauma during his evaluation, a hospital admittance may precede the recovery program.


Prescriptions – Yes, it certainly sounds counter-intuitive to think of prescriptions for someone in a recovery program. But the truth is, hardcore withdrawals can be an intense process and sometimes light medication is needed to soothe the experience. Despite popular belief, a “cold turkey” approach to quitting severe dependencies can be traumatic and even dangerous for the body. A qualified doctor can help ease that process with light dosages of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. Prescriptions like Clondine are also accepted within the recovery community as a tool to relieve sweating, cramps and muscle spasms during opiate withdrawals.


We understand how delicate these types of diagnoses can be, which is why we feel so lucky to have Dr. Jenkins as part of the team. His expertise has saved countless lives and we encourage you to visit his official website for info on his background and private practice.


Always remember that at Valley Recovery Center, you are in the hands of caring, capable professionals. For more information about our staff and treatment programs, reach out at (866) 986-2486.



Sand Fire Relief For Our Santa Clarita Community

We never get tired of saying how proud we are to be part of the Santa Clarita community. And now, that community is making national headlines because of the devastating Sand Fire. Thankfully, our Newhall facility is currently out of harm’s way. But for hundreds of our fellow residents, the flames have led to evacuations and displacement.


Right now, we hope to do our part by spreading the word about Sand Fire relief. Whether or not you live in the area, there are many ways that you can help. For one, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region is accepting food and donations for families who have lost their homes.


Also, the Associated Student Body of Saugus High School is accepting donations for our brave firefighters. Gatorade, water and snacks are what is requested, with a drop off location of 21900 Centurion Way.


Cedarcreek Elementary School at 27792 Camp Plenty Road is accepting sunscreen, baby wipes, and granola bars for displaced families. And if you want to help the local horses, Hansem Dam Stables at 11127 Orcas Avenue in Sylmar is taking apples and carrots.


Generous financial donors are urged to visit the YouCaring crowd-sharing fund link, which is accepting monetary gifts for the families of firefighters who lost their homes. Right now, they’ve reached over $10,000 from helpful people in the community.


Everyone impacted by this terrible tragedy is in our thoughts and prayers. Thankfully (as of Tuesday), the Sand Fire does look more contained and hopefully on its way out.

Santa Clarita Honors Orlando Victims

Every now and then, we like sharing positive stories about our amazing community. We are so proud to live in Santa Clarita and feel it’s important to highlight the good work happening in our city. One major event worth mentioning, was the gathering of dozens of residents last Sunday to recognize the victims of the deadly Orlando shooting. This was an unspeakable tragedy and we proudly stand beside our neighbors in honoring those slain.


The Santa Clarity Valley Signal was also on-hand for the event, photographing peace flags, prayer vigils and residents (young and old) who came to show their support.


“It’s just really great to see this turnout after the tragedy; it really gives us hope,” resident Kathy Toomey told the outlet. “When these tragedies strike we always come together as a community and just kind of unite together.”


Anyone watching the news, will continue to see this story dominating the headlines. We, of course, have been strong supporters of LGBT rights and (like most Americans) were devastated by the news. Our hearts go out to the hundreds of Orlando residents impacted during this time of grief and sorrow.


Santa Clarita Special Olympics

As much as we love sharing recovery updates and happenings, we also like to take time every to celebrate our wonderful city of Santa Clarita. Google the name and you’ll see tons of positive news articles and “feel good” human interest stories. A recent one that we wanted to highlight concerns the California Special Olympics and their Regional Spring Games occurring right here in our hometown.


On May 14, more than 600 Special Olympics athletes will descend at our local Hart High School Track. A kickoff ceremony will begin at 9am sharp, followed by the traditional Parade of Athletes and the Flame of Hope (which, as we know, signifies the commencement of every great Olympic championship).


From there, talented athletes will compete in everything from basketball to bocce at various locations throughout the city. Attendees can join the festivities at the famed Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, as well as Placerita Junior High. After it’s all done, a special awards ceremony will take place; honoring the gold, silver and bronze winners.


And just in case you were unfamiliar, the Special Olympics of Southern California opens itself to a wide array of children and adults with disabilities. It is a fantastic outlet that promotes teamwork and acceptance. It also builds camaraderie through volunteerism (which should total 600 this time out).


Valley Recovery Center is proud to support this cause and you can bet we’ll be there cheering these amazing athletes on! To find out more about our local Special Olympics event, click here or reach out to rep Laura Mayor at (661) 489-0540.


See you this May!

Giving Back in Santa Clarita

One of the key lessons we like to instill in our discussions at Valley Recovery Center is paying it forward (or giving back). That, of course, means if you’ve been able to successfully make it through recovery, pass along your learnings and always try to help someone in need. In our world, “help” goes well beyond sobriety. It also gives us a chance to contribute to our community…And in this case, it’s the Santa Clarita Blood Drive on March 16.


As we’ve mentioned before, we are extremely proud to be part of the City of Santa Clarita. It seems like every other week, our community is making headlines for positive contributions among its friends and neighbors. This time, they are partnering with the American Red Cross at the Century Room in downtown City Hall. From 9:15am – 3:15 pm this Wednesday, Red Cross reps will be on hand to accept donations and save lives.


We are encouraging all of our staff and residents to partake in this charitable event. According to the Red Cross, a blood drawing that takes mere minutes can save up to three human lives. Spreading the word is key to making Wednesday’s Drive a success. Even if it’s to people in other parts of LA, we are hopeful friends (and friends of friends) can make their way to our neighborhood to do their part in paying it forward.


And if you are coming from out of town, please stop by and pay us a visit. Because doing good is what we’re all about. To find out more about Wednesday’s Blood Drive, reach out to Amanda Santos at (661) 255-4923. We hope to see you there!