The Santa Barbara Police Department is warning the public about the dangers of drug abuse, specifically heroin use, after three people died this week from suspected heroin overdoses and two others were hospitalized.

Shortly after 2 a.m. Aug. 6, police and medical personnel responded to a residence on the Mesa, where a 20-year-old male resident was pronounced dead at the scene. Police recovered drug paraphernalia consistent with heroin use.

A roommate told police the man had used heroin, alcohol and Xanax, police spokesman Paul McCaffrey said. He said autopsy test results are pending, but that it appeared heroin played a role in the death.

Later that same day, about 4:50 a.m., police and medical crews were called to a residence in the Hidden Valley area for an overdose. A 31-year-old male resident was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim’s mother told police her son had a past history of drug use, but thought he was doing better lately. Officers recovered drug paraphernalia from the residence.

About 5:45 p.m. Aug. 8, a 30-year-old male was pronounced dead at a downtown residence. McCaffrey said the victim’s uncle showed symptoms of heroin overdose and was treated at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. The uncle told police that both he and the victim had used heroin.

A toxicological analysis by the office of the Sheriff’s Coroner is pending.

Police responded to Cottage Hospital’s emergency room shortly after midnight Aug. 8 on a drug overdose case. An unresponsive 23-year-old woman who lives on the Mesa was dropped off by two males, who then immediately left the hospital.

The woman was treated for heroin overdose. McCaffrey said she was uncooperative and refused to say how she obtained the heroin or who dropped her off.

McCaffrey said it’s not uncommon for Santa Barbara to have a few reported heroin overdose deaths each year, but three in three days is unusual. He said it could indicate that unusually strong heroin is being distributed.

The police department urges anyone who abuses drugs, especially heroin, to seek treatment immediately. The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, Project Recovery is available at 805.962.6195.

Noozhawk managing editor Michelle Nelson can be reached at