Just two days before Westminster High School's Senior Prom and two weeks before school lets out, students got an unexpected course you could call Heroin 101 where passing or failing could mean life or death.
"We just heard [about] four students at Johns Hopkins,” said Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford who hosted the first-ever Maryland Heroin and Opioid Educational Forum for students at Westminster High. “I mean Johns Hopkins is a premier institution and you have four students there who overdosed in just the last couple of days. So it is not on the other side of the tracks or the bad neighborhood. It's in the so-called good neighborhoods---suburban, rural, urban. It's all over now."
And that means updating students on the high costs of experimenting with a drug, which is claiming lives in record numbers.
"The crisis that we're facing is actually costing real people's lives,” said Clay Stamp, the executive director of the Governor’s Opioid Operational Command Center. “On average, every day in the State of Maryland, there are five real people dying."
Here closer to home, students can't miss the sign outside the state police barrack reminding them of the 46 people in the county who died when they overdosed last year, and that number is on a pace to go up this year.
"So far to this date, we've seen 21 fatalities this year in Carroll County,” said County Commissioner Steve Wantz. “We have trained over 640 folks with the use of naloxone. The Sheriff's Office, itself, has seen 14 reversals so far this year."
"The commissioner gave you some statistics and I'll keep it real for you, because yesterday my deputies responded to two people that overdosed and died yesterday and the amount of heroin they took equaled that of what was in a sugar pack,” Sheriff Jim DeWees told the students. “Unfortunately what was in the heroin likely, and we'll find that out once we send it down to crime lab and have it analyzed, was maybe a speck or two of synthetic fentanyl or even worse maybe carfentanil."
It is the scary reality as the leaders of tomorrow try to avoid the deadly pitfall of opioids today.
"If we can cut off that pipeline of new users, which could have been some of these kids who are here now, we're not going to dealing with that issue in a year or more," said Rutherford.
While students were once encouraged to stay away from the wrong crowd, the message to students today was very different. They're encouraging them to reach out to their classmates who may be at risk in order to save their lives.