Montgomery County school authorities are responding to two teen fentanyl overdoses this month by reaching out to parents.
Why it’s important County officials report that fentanyl overdoses among young people, both fatal and non-fatal, surged by 78% in 2022.
In Montgomery County, 11 young people died from an overdose in 2018, compared to five in 2021.
Driving the news: A 15-year-old student at a public school died this month of a suspected overdose, and just last week, a youngster at a high school in Wheaton who had a suspected fentanyl overdose while attending class was revived with the overdose-reversing medication naloxone.
What’s going on: On Saturday morning at Clarksburg High School, Montgomery County Public Schools and Montgomery Goes Purple, a substance abuse and overdose awareness campaign, will hold a family discussion about the dangers of fentanyl. There will be distribution of naloxone kits and instruction on how to administer the drug.
This week, county authorities told reporters that naloxone is available in the nurse’s office at every public school and that staff members had received training in its use. In addition to placing naloxone in sites where defibrillators are located throughout the campus, they are thinking about boosting the number of people who carry it.
Officials tell Axios that kids can obtain the free naloxone kits that are available at all county fire stations.
Young people are likely to use drugs, according to officials.
What they’re saying: An increasing number of clients are coming to Children’s National Hospital’s addiction program for opioid use, as more young people seek treatment, says Siva Kaliamurthy, a psychiatrist at the hospital.
“When we look at the national data, substance use trends in adolescents have stayed the same or decreased compared to the past years, but overdose rates have increased. This is likely due to contamination with illicitly manufactured fentanyl,” Kaliamurthy says.
He urges families to start conversations about substance use early with children and to avoid punishment and yelling. Maryland parents have access to a free online resource that guides them on how to have these conversations.
Of note: Maryland has a Good Samaritan law that protects people from legal trouble if they administer naloxone or try to help someone who has overdosed.