Montgomery County officials work to combat rising drug overdose deaths in young people

Officials in one Maryland county are sounding alarms about the rising number drug overdose deaths in younger people.

According to the Centers for Disease control, the number of drug overdose deaths went up nearly 30 percent last year. Here in the D.C. region, just this week, two Prince William County, Virginia teenagers died. Earlier this year, ten people died from overdoses in D.C.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

John McCarthy, the state’s attorney for Montgomery County, said he makes presentations warning kids about the prevalence and dangers of Fentanyl-laced drugs. He tells FOX 5 these presentations are taking on new meaning lately, as the county is seeing a 20% rise in deadly overdoses compared to last year. County data also shows that 95% of all deadly overdoses are Fentanyl related.

McCarthy held a presentation about the issue at Thomas S. Wootton High School on Thursday. He spoke with Wootton seniors about the about the state’s good Samaritan law: If you see someone overdosing, call 9-1-1.

"I am telling you as the state’s attorney and under the law in Maryland and our good Samaritan doctrines, make the call, bring in those emergency people, save the life of that young person. I think that’s the highest priority, saving lives," said McCarthy.

McCarthy says this message is especially important for high school seniors since they will soon have proms, beach weeks, and newfound independence after graduation.

The students also heard from the parents of a former student, who died of a drug overdose. Jenn and Geoff Pisarra lost their son, Michael, to an overdose in 2020. Michael graduated from Wootton High School in 2018.

"I think the most valuable thing as a parent to learn to get to the kids is to call 911, and not fear your own prosecution. My fear is that so many more lives would be saved if they know I’m not going to get in trouble," said Jenn Pisarra.

FOX 5 spoke with several students who said they learned a lot from the presentation.

"All I could say is how powerful it was, extremely moving, especially that they brought in parents, and people with extremely close ties to this community," said Wootton senior, Joshua Freedman.


Another student, Dylan Safai, tells FOX 5, "I think the biggest impression on me was hearing from the parents and thinking about myself, I don’t want to put my parents in such a situation, seeing how emotional the parents were."