Severna Park, Md. - "Why are our youth overdosing an dying?" is the question Not My Child is trying to answer for Anne Arundel County families.
The regular community conversation brings together law enforcement, social workers, educators and recovering users to let parents know what to look for and where to get help.
Wednesday, dozens filled the gymnasium at Severna Park Middle School to listen to from speakers like Christopher Pedersen.
"I started in middle school with a beer we snuck from our parents. We ran over to the dug out and we drank it," he recalls.
Pedersen is now in recovery for heroin addiction, an outcome that his younger self would have never thought possible.
"Even the morning of me first trying heroin, that would have never been me. It happened quick. It happened just like that," he says. "I've seen a lot of people who said, 'That will never be me,' pass away."
Not My Child also gives county officials to inform families of available resources to help opioid abusers. The new Safe Stations programs opens up police stations and fire stations to those seeking treatment without the threat of charges.
"One of the big barriers I hear is: 'When I wake up in the morning and I’m tired of using, where do I go?' For Anne Arundel County, it's easy. You go to any fire station. There's one in every community," said Jen Corbin, Director of the County Crisis Response team.
The County goal of "No New Users" requires an emphasis on prevention, which begins at home and, unfortunately, earlier than ever.
"The need to complete this conversation with the parents and have them take it back into the home and reinforce it. I mean, this is a huge part about prevention," said County States Attorney Wes Adams.
The County's Crisis Response addiction line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That number is 410-768-5522