“I always thought that I was too young to be an addict, and yet I was constantly getting in trouble and lying to people.”

— Jenn

The easiest way to beat addiction is never to start.

There are things you can do—as a parent, caring partner or friend—to stop someone before the temptation to take drugs takes hold and they spiral out of control. Cecil County can help you with information, education, early intervention and treatment referral options.

Dialog: the anti-drug

If you’re a concerned parent, have regular, nonjudgmental conversations with your child or teen about drug and alcohol use. Warn your kids about prescription drugs that are not prescribed for them—a medicine prescribed for a friend or relative is not safe.

Opioid addiction isn’t always a deliberate decision. It can begin with a patient taking a prescribed medication in higher-than-recommended doses, or combining it with other medications or alcohol. So never change your dosing regimen without discussing it first with a healthcare professional. Never take someone else’s prescription medication. Properly dispose of any expired or unused prescriptions. Most important, keep prescription medications out of the reach of others, securely locked away.

Causes of opioid misuse

It’s not clear why certain individuals are more likely to become opioid addicts, but overall, men are twice as likely as women. The causes include home environment, genetics, and biological or psychological reasons.

Adolescents who are raised in unstable homes or witness addiction in other family members are likely to later develop their own addiction. If a person has a close relative, parent or sibling with a genetic addictive disorder, it could contribute to them becoming an addict as well.

Psychologically—because of the euphoria created by opioids—users may believe that they function better in social or professional situations. Psychological dependence results from prolonged use, causing an emotional need or compulsion to continue using opioids. Often, addiction is accompanied by a co-occurring mental disorder such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia.

Some people also choose prescription medications over “street drugs” because they believe that they’re safer, have fewer side effects, are cheaper, and are easier to obtain or take from others.

Signs of an opioid misuse problem*

  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Poor concentration or attention
  • Memory problems
  • Sleepiness
  • Numbness
  • Small pupils
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Chronic constipation
  • Rashes, itching, flushed skin
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble breathing

How to talk with someone who has a problem

  1. First, learn about opioid abuse. For more information, you can go to the prevention resources list below.
  2. Find good times to talk when you won’t be interrupted. You’ll be the most effective if you cover this subject a little at a time.
  3. Explain that children, teens or adults could start using opioids. Give reasons why they might start (depression, peer pressure, stress, etc.).
  4. Assure them that if they’re tempted, or if they do drugs, they can come to you immediately for help. Be prepared to help without criticism if they feel safe coming to you.
  5. Go over the effects of opioids and the damage they can cause. These include physical, mental and financial harm, along with destroying relationships and trust. Invite them to ask questions. Be realistic and don’t exaggerate the harm.
  6. Describe the way that peer pressure to use drugs can be very subtle. Sometimes it’s nothing more than the desire to join in the fun everyone else seems to be having.
  7. Let them know that drug residues are stored in the body. The lingering damage of drug abuse can stay with them for many years. This damage can include effects like slow and cloudy thinking, emotional shutoff, depression, difficulty learning or solving problems, and even lasting personality changes like paranoia or anxiety.
  8. Explain that abuse of any drug can damage or destroy a person’s ability to achieve their goals. It can happen even in one night due to an accident or overdose.
  9. Be willing to listen. Above all, do your best to make it safe for them to talk to you about their friends using drugs, or about their own substance abuse or concerns.