CLARKSBURG, MD–(DC News Now) Montgomery County has a growing problem with fentanyl, especially among the youth.

“28 days into 2023, we’ve seen a 433% increase in youth overdose from last year at this time,” said Montgomery County Police Captain Nicholas Picerno.

He joined representatives Saturday for the first fentanyl family forum held at Clarksburg High School. The numbers regarding juveniles who use synthetic drugs are alarming.

Montgomery County Police reported a 120% increase in deadly youth overdoses compared to 2021, while the number of those who survived rose by 68% during the same time period. Overall, the county witnessed a 78% spike in fentanyl overdoses.

More disturbing is youth overdoses are no longer accidental.

“People as young as 14, 15, maybe even younger are purchasing these drugs knowing exactly what they are,” said Picerno.

It seems the drug is everywhere.

“This pervasive issue is in every single high school in Montgomery County public schools. It does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are Black, White, Asian, [or] Hispanic,” said Clarksburg High School Principal Edward Owusu.

The forum also gave students and parents an opportunity to get more information about fentanyl as more similar events are planned around the county.

Organizers encouraged parents and children to discuss fentanyl and its dangers. You can also text or call 988 if you suspect someone is using the drug. The Montgomery Crisis Center is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.