Credit: Creative Commons

The Family Forum on Fentanyl series is coming to Burtonsville Saturday, with a free public event at Paint Branch High School from 9 a.m. to noon. Organizers say the format will be different from previous forums, providing more space for small group discussions on a variety of safety-related topics.

Saturday’s event is the third in a series aimed at providing community education and resources about substance use and overdose prevention. It’s sponsored by Montgomery Goes Purple in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools and others. Previous forums at Northwood and Clarksburg high schools have included Q&A-style discussions with panels of local experts, police and school officials.

Student substance use has been a community concern in recent months as officials report fentanyl-related youth overdoses are on the rise, and students report rampant drug use in school bathrooms. Narcan has been administered 13 times in county public schools so far this school year, according to MCPS spokesperson Jessica Baxter.

Instead of one large-group panel discussion, event organizer Laura Mitchell from Montgomery Goes Purple said Saturday’s event will offer “dozens of options for small group discussion” on over 15 safety-related topics, with some groups geared toward students, some for adults and some for both. According to the event flyer, topics will include:

  • Emergency response
  • Healthy boundaries versus “tough love”
  • Refusal skills and “escape hatch” planning
  • Starting substance use conversations
  • Safety at home and at school
  • Mental health and wellness
  • What to expect in recovery

All sessions will be offered in English and Spanish. Free Narcan kits and training will also be available. Families can register to attend online.