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Preventing Substance Use and Opioid Overdoses in Youth

Opioid-related overdose is a national public health crisis.

Overdoses and deaths caused by illicit fentanyl are increasing among youth.

What is MCPS doing?

MCPS works with the Montgomery Goes Purple community coalition to coordinate prevention and support around substance use by:

  • Increasing awareness of and access to the emergency overdose medication naloxone (Narcan)
  • Connecting schools with youth supports and programs
  • Offering resources so families are empowered to address substance use with youth and act if they are concerned
  • Created public service announcements to inform the community of the dangers of fentanyl

mortality data

Important Message on Dangers of Fentanyl from the School System Medical Officer



*For more information, see our 12/9/22 Community Message about illicit fentanyl

Child & Adolescent Assessment Services (CAAS)

English | Spanish

Family Forum on Fentanyl



View Slideshow




Youth Overdose
in Montgomery County: 2021-2022
  • These data are collected by the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD)
  • For county residents overall, non-fatal overdoses were down 21%, and fatal overdoses were down 26%, in 2022 compared to the prior year
  • However, overdoses INCREASED for youth in 2022 and continue to increase
Youth Overdoses 2021 2022 % Change
(2021 to 2022)
Fatal 5 11 +120%
Non-fatal 22 37 +68%
Grand Total 27 48 +78%

These data show only fatal and non-fatal overdose events to which MCPD personnel responded

Most opioid related overdoses were due to illicit fentanyl, often found in other substances including counterfeit pills (e.g., Oxycontin, Percocet, Xanax, Adderall).


What can parents/caregivers do to help?


What can youth do to help?

  • Get smart about opioids and the dangers of illicit fentanyl. Other drugs (like fake prescription pills or marijuana) can be laced with fentanyl so people may not even know they’re taking it. Very small amounts can lead to a deadly overdose.
  • Learn how to support friends and family when you are concerned about their mental health or substance use. Showing you care and helping people get connected to resources early can save lives. 
  • Use non-stigmatizing language around substance use – this makes it easier for people to seek help when they need it.
  • Learn about naloxone (Narcan) and spread the word about this life-saving, emergency medication.

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    If someone you know needs help…

    If someone you know needs help with substance use:

    Montgomery Goes Purple (

    Montgomery County’s coalition of government agencies, community organizations and individuals collaborating to provide education, resources and support regarding substance use and recovery, for the entire community. Check out their section on Youth and Family Resources.

    Child & Adolescent Assessment Services (CAAS)

    The CAAS program in the Montgomery County Crisis Center conducts mental health and substance use assessments for Montgomery County Youth. For more information contact

    SAMHSA’s National Helpline and Online Treatment Locator

    A federal resource offering a free and confidential 24/7 referral and information service for mental health and substance use issues. Call the National Helpline or use the online treatment locator.


    If you suspect an overdose:

    • Overdose is a medical emergency - call 911 and give naloxone (Narcan) if available
    • Click here for more information about responding to an overdose and accessing Narcan training and resources
    • Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law protects people assisting with an emergency overdose situation from arrest or prosecution for certain crimes

    Symptoms of an Overdose

    • Slow, shallow or stopped breathing
    • Sleepy and unable to talk, or unconscious
    • Blue lips or fingertips
    • Pale/grayish skin
    • Loud snoring or gurgling sounds

    If you or someone you know is suicidal or having any mental health emergency:

    Call or text 988

    • 988 can be accessed by telephone call , text, or chat (at

    Montgomery County Crisis Center

    • Call the Crisis Center at 240-777-4000 or walk in at 1301 Piccard Dr., Rockville, MD 20850
    • Open 24 hours, 365 days per year
    NARCAN® (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray