Join the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health for an opening reception of the INTO LIGHT project, an exhibition that puts a human face on the disease of addiction through hand-drawn portraits and written narratives to change the conversation about drug addiction.

The Opening Reception will be hosted on Tuesday, March 19 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Victor Valley Museum (11873 Apple Valley Road, Apple Valley, CA 92308)

Register at

Steven Lee Loza
A blessing to all who knew him

As a young child, Steven, also affectionately known as “Boots” in the family, loved Thomas the Tank Engine and was a train fanatic. He also loved Dora the Explorer and her furry monkey side-kick Boots, which is where Steven got his nickname. Steven’s brother Zach predicted Steven’s birth at his grandmother’s funeral when he was just eight. He said, “Mom, don’t worry. When God takes one, God leaves one.” One month later, she was pregnant with Steven.

As early as kindergarten, Steven’s parents were aware he had ADHD. He was a sweet boy, an empath, with a kind heart, but had trouble focusing and fitting in. He was a target for bullies and had difficulty making friends. His parents advocated endlessly to get proper educational resources to little avail. Steven became involved in the Cub Scouts and T-Ball with his parents as coaches. And he loved to hang out and play video games with his older brother Zach. Steven was in fourth grade when his father, Ronnie, died. Steven and his mother, Jennifer, attended a grief support group. When those services ended, she started Ronnie’s House for Hope to provide support for children and families following a death.

As Steven approached high school, he was accepted because he was a comedian and a risk taker. His drug use intensified, but it was hard to know if it was his depression and anxiety showing or something else. He became known as the guy who would take any dare. This led to some problems in school and with the police. He was also the kid who couldn’t stand to see people or animals in pain and routinely rescued both. Steven graduated from high school the same month he turned 18. True to tradition, his mom took him skydiving for his 18th birthday, a treasured memory for her as Steven passed away just four months later.

“The positive impact Steven left is immense,” his mom said. “He dealt with his pain by helping others.” It was healing to be embraced in Steven’s powerful hugs. He encompassed people in his long arms with a depth of sincerity and love. Unable to give himself that same regard, he had a lot of negative self-talk, often referring to himself as a “screw-up.” His mother saw his true, loving nature, as did his cousin Kenzie, who was very close to Steven throughout their lives.

Steven’s life was short, but it had purpose and meaning. He was a youth explorer with the fire department and, after doing a ride-along, he set a future goal to become a firefighter. “Steven was sensitive and full of love. I am incredibly proud of who my son was, and I know he would be proud that his story helps others. That is my motivation,” his mother stated.

Jennifer misses dancing with Steven in the kitchen, listening to tunes during their car rides together, and his loud laugh, which could be “extra.” She keeps a candle lit for him 24 hours a day and feels his energy around her. When Steven died, some people lied about the cause of his death, but Jennifer was never ashamed. “When you make someone feel shame for what they are going through, it keeps them using,” she said. “That is not okay with me. No one has a right to change someone’s story, their journey. If we don’t eliminate the shame that comes with substance use disorder, how does anything change? We don’t learn from silence.”

Steven’s mother, Jennifer Loza, provided the information for this narrative.

Age 18 -June 25, 2002-October 24, 2020

Age 18- lived with the disease of addiction for a year and a half.

If you suspect a family member or friend might have a problem with substance use, speak to them about getting help. Treatment can be arranged in different modalities to fit almost any schedule. Counselors will work with you and your family member/friend to design a treatment plan that works for you. When you’re ready, you or your family member/friend can call (800) 968-2636 to reach our Substance Use Disorder and Recovery Services (SUDRS) Helpline, 24 hours of the day for a free and confidential assessment.

Additional County Update News – February 22, 2024

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