Within the great Central Valley of California in Fresno County lies the small farming town of Huron. A huge agricultural region of the US, Huron is located just south of the Salinas Valley on the eastern side of the Gabilan Mountains.

Huron is located 15 miles east-northeast of Coalinga, at an elevation of 374 feet. In 2,000 Huron was the city with the highest proportion of Hispanic or Latino people in the United States, according to the United States Census.

The community of Huron was founded in 1888 as a water stop along the Southern Pacific Railroad’s western route. One of the first structures in the community was the Huron Post Office, which operated from 1877 to 1883 and then from 1886 to the present. Huron became a boomtown in the early 20th century and has grown steadily ever since.

Joseph Mouren and his family were largely responsible for the expansion of the community of Huron in the late 19th century and fueled the city’s growth into the 20th century by investment. Mouren Drive was named after Joseph Mouren, who is considered by many to be one of the city’s founding fathers. In the early 20th century, Huron became one of the largest producers of wool in the nation.

Huron has a semi-arid climate. Before the 1930’s the region was a desert. Water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in northern California was brought through the Central Valley to the Huron region through an irrigation system that created an economic boom. In 2006 California’s agricultural output was worth more than any other state thanks in part to this engineering marvel. Today Huron is known mostly for producing lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.

The greatest percentage of farmland surrounding Huron is devoted to the production of lettuce, onions and tomatoes. During the harvest season, it is not uncommon for the population of the city to swell from its usual population of just under 7,000 to over 15,000 people, as migrant workers stream to the area to help with the harvesting of the crops. Although Huron is much warmer than Salinas in the summer, the spring and fall are quite similar and these are the times when the weather is best for growing fresh, flavorful lettuce.

Huron is facing significant challenges today, with changes in water provision measures having an enormous effect on the area’s ability to irrigate. The economy has been powered for years by agriculture, and with agriculture being the basis of the economy, lack of water has resulted in a serious rise in unemployment.

“As you drive down Highway 198 toward the tiny Central Valley city of Huron, yellow-and-black signs poke out from parched fields with a message that harkens back to the days of the Great Depression: ‘Congress Created Dustbowls.’ The signs are believed to be the handiwork of the Central Valley’s agricultural industry, reflect a collective cry of desperation from community of about 7,300 Mexican immigrants, who have made this Fresno County town their home, with hopes of realizing the American dream.” It was predicted that an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 agricultural-related jobs would be lost in the Central Valley, Alternet reported in their immigration section.

Drug Abuse in the Central Valley

Unfortunately, drug abuse can become a greater problem for areas facing challenges such as these, as people seek to escape the harsh realities of economic stress combined with enforced idleness. Drugs that are abused include:

• Marijuana, cocaine, and hallucinogens, such as LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), mescaline, psilocybin, PCP (phencyclidine), and ketamine.
• Inhalants, such as glues, aerosol sprays, gasoline, paints, and paint thinners.
• Club drugs, such as ecstasy (MDMA).
• Methamphetamine, which is called meth, crank, or speed.
• Opiates, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.
• Prescription drugs, such as diazepam (Valium), hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Norco), methylphenidate (Ritalin), and oxycodone (OxyContin).
• Over-the-counter medicines, such as cough syrups and cold pills.

Many teens try alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Some teens try these substances only a few times and stop. Others can’t control their urges or cravings for them. This is substance abuse.

There is hope for those who find themselves abusing substances and unable to stop. Treatment for drug abuse or dependence usually includes group therapy, one or more types of counseling, and drug education. A 12-step program is often part of treatment and continues afterward as part of recovery.

Treatment doesn’t just deal with drugs. It helps one take control of one’s life so one doesn’t have to depend on drugs. Staying drug-free is a lifelong process that takes commitment and effort. Finding the right program can be a significant key to success, and those seeking help are encouraged to examine all the resources available to find something that will work for them, including sustaining the encouraging support structure that can make all the difference between success and failure, especially during challenging times.