Montgomery County Public Schools and the organization Montgomery Goes Purple are sponsoring a second community forum on fentanyl on Saturday.
The event includes a panel discussion on risks, prevention and treatment, as well as breakout sessions in English and Spanish for parents and caregivers. Organizers will also provide training on Narcan, an overdose medication, and Narcan kits.
At the event, a panel of medical experts will discuss topics related to substance use and behavioral health. Volunteers will distribute free Narcan kits (which contain a prescription medicine designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose) and provide training on their use.
The Community Opioid Prevention Education, or COPE, trailer will also be parked outside the school for families to tour. Designed by the Montgomery County Police Department to simulate a typical teenager’s bedroom, the trailer helps police teach parents how to identify common spots where a student may hide illegal drugs in the home.
The session is 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Northwood High School Auditorium, 919 University Boulevard W., Silver Spring.
Around 500 county residents attended a fentanyl forum last month at Clarksburg High School, and an additional 1,000 viewers tuned in via livestream.
While overall drug overdoses in Montgomery County are down 21% since 2021, youth and adolescent overdoses increased by 78% in 2022, according to data from the Montgomery County Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid with 50 times the strength of heroin and up to 100 times the strength of morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Counterfeit prescription pills are often laced with it, so individuals may not even know they’re ingesting it.
Montgomery Goes Purple is a volunteer-based group that hosts an annual overdose awareness campaign during Recovery Month in September.
The most common fentanyl-related overdoses involve counterfeit Oxycodone, Percocet and Xanax pills, MCPD data shows.
In January of last year, 16-year-old Walt Whitman student Landen Hausman was found dead in his family home after overdosing on a fentanyl-laced counterfeit Percocet pill. His parents said he first turned to drugs and alcohol in eighth grade to cope with mental health issues.
Police later arrested 23-year-old Silver Spring resident Mikiyas “Mick” Kefalew alleging he sold Hausman the drugs that killed him. As of September, Kefalew faces distribution-related charges in federal court and could serve life in prison if convicted. A trial date has not yet been listed, according to a U.S. District Court case manager.
In December, MCPS issued an urgent message warning families of dangerous trends in fentanyl-related overdoses. In it, Kapunan said the use of fentanyl was involved in over 70% of all Montgomery County overdoses in 2021 — including fentanyl-laced substances and substances disguised as Percocet, Xanax or Adderall.
Community members can register for the public forum via a QR code on the event flyer.