“My message to the kids: before making a choice, think about your family, your friends, your classmates, your teachers…the people who you leave behind should something happen to you.” -Marc Hausman (CEO of Strategic Communications Group)
In Montgomery County, there’s been a 78% increase in youth overdoses in 2021. Over 70% of all recorded overdoses were fentanyl-related. Currently, fentanyl is the leading cause of death for young adults. One recent case occurred on Jan. 24, where a 15-year-old at Kennedy High School died of a suspected fentanyl overdose.
Fentanyl is a highly dangerous opioid that people, especially impressionable kids, can easily get addicted to, overdose on, and die from. Overdoses and deaths mostly occur when people take pills that are presumed to be Xanax, Adderall, Percocets, or Oxycodone, not knowing they’re laced with fentanyl.
Following the tragedy at Kennedy, MCPS held a family forum to educate the public on fentanyl and its risks. Although doing drugs, in general, is obviously bad, students inevitably do them anyway. It’s strongly encouraged that people do not consume substances that aren’t YOUR prescription or from a dispensary.
Psychology and Gov teacher, Ms. Sandy Hajjar, and I were able to reach out to an MCPS parent, Marc Hausman, who lost his son, former Whitman High School sophomore Landen Hausman to an accidental fentanyl overdose in January 2022.
“Alcohol and drug use is often glamorized in movies and television, and on social media,” Hausman says. “My experience with my son was much different. There is nothing glamorous, desirable, or appealing about what happened to him. No one wants to be found dead by their dad on a bathroom floor.”
Hausman’s story serves as a painful reminder of the realities and consequences of drug abuse.
“He had support from his counselors, teachers, teammates, and friends. Ultimately he made the choice to purchase what he thought were Percocet pills, to crush one up, and to snort it. That choice cost Landen his life.”
Hausman’s message to the students: “The choices they make affect the people who they love. Their family and friends. Landen’s choice and his resulting death have sentenced us to a lifetime of sadness.”
As a community, we can work together to prevent a fatal incident like this from happening at Blake. If someone you know is struggling with substance use, it’s likely that they’re struggling with something deeper than the eye can see.
Since the pandemic, mental health & drug crises have been at an all-time high. Instead of making a bad, dangerous choice, reach out; help is all around us. Montgomery County has plenty of resources to help teens that are struggling. In fact, MCPS just introduced a new app called Stronger, where middle and high school students can easily access mental and physical health resources, emergency crisis contact information, and anonymously report incidents. Feel free to go to a trusted adult, teacher, or counselor if you’re concerned about a mental health or substance abuse issue.