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.

Find local prevention, treatment, recovery and support services in Cecil County.

Drug Free Cecil is a collaboration between several local coalitions working to reduce substance use among youth in Cecil County. Topics include vaping, opioids, underage drinking and more. Find out more.

Prevention public service billboards created by Cecil County High School youth representatives

Dialogue: the antidrug

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.


  • Tell them the dangers of using drugs and alcohol, using age-appropriate explanations.
  • Explain why you don’t want them to use drugs. For example, explain how drug and alcohol use interferes with young people’s concentration, memory and motor skills, and that it leads to poorer school performance. Tell them you wouldn’t want these outcomes for them.
  • Make it easy for your child to talk honestly with you. Also, make yourself available when your child wants to talk—no matter the time of day or the other tasks you face.
  • Believe in your own power to help your child avoid using alcohol and drugs.


  • Don’t react in anger—even if your child makes statements that shock you.
  • Don’t expect every conversation to be perfect. They won’t be.
  • Don’t simply demand that your children not do drugs. Instead, educate them about the risks so that they will be equipped to make decisions about drug use based on their own knowledge.
  • Don’t talk without listening. Aim for a 50-50 conversation—you talk half the time and listen the other half.
  • Don’t make stuff up. If your child asks a question you can’t answer or wants information about something you’re unsure of, promise to find the correct answer so that you can learn together. Then follow up on that promise.

How to protect your children from drug use:

  • Engage in quality family time.
  • Communicate openly.
  • Provide other positive role models.
  • Set clear rules and consequences.
  • Offer engagement in positive activities.
  • Be involved in their school and community.

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 their 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 most effective if you cover this subject a little at a time.
  3. Explain that children, teens and 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 the ways opioid use can destroy relationships and trust. Invite them to ask questions. Be realistic and don’t exaggerate the harm.
  6. Describe how 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 shut-off, 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.

Opioid addiction isn’t always a deliberate decision. It can begin when a patient takes a prescribed medication in higher-than-recommended doses or combines 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.

RX Drug Drop Box Locations

Drop off expired or unused prescription medications safely at these Cecil County locations. No questions asked.

Elkton Police Department

100 Railroad Avenue
Elkton, MD 21921

Cecil County Sheriff’s Office

107 Chesapeake Blvd., Suite 112
Elkton, MD 21921

Rising Sun Town Hall

1 East Main Street
Rising Sun, MD 21911

North East Police Department

104 West Cecil Avenue
North East, MD 21901

Maryland State Police, North East Barrack “F”

2433 West Pulaski Highway
North East, MD 21901

Maryland State Police, JFK Highway Barrack

15 Turnpike Drive
Perryville, MD 21903

Perryville Police Department

2 Perryville Town Center Drive
Perryville, MD 21903
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