Please visit our Online services page for County resources available online, by email, and by phone.

You are here: Home > Parents & Families

Parents & Families

Prescription drug abuse cuts right across all sectors of the community: from young teens to the elderly, from high school students and college students to health professionals like doctors, nurses and veterinarians. It can affect the unemployed in economically depressed areas to the wealthiest of Hollywood celebrities.

People fail to realize the significant impact medications have on our body chemistry. When they are taken in a non-prescribed fashion outside that which is intended by the manufacturer, or in combination with other substances like alcohol, pharmaceuticals can be hazardous and even deadly! Prescription drug abuse and misuse has silently risen to become one of the most serious prevention issues in the country.

Teenagers have started abusing these medications at “pharming” parties. This is a party where everyone brings a bottle of medication and they combine all of them in a candy dish or bowl. The more varied colors of pills the better, another term used for these parties is “skittling” because the pills resemble the candy of the same name. Recently a state Police Department arrested a 15 year old girl that had almost 200 prescription pills that she had taken from relatives and was attempting to sell at her high school!

Some people may view this as a “victimless” crime, in a sense that the only damage being done is to the abuser. Law enforcement agencies can attest to the fact that this is not the case. In recent years, law enforcement has investigated many thefts and burglaries where pharmaceuticals were the primary target. In many cases, money and jewelry were bypassed! These addicts and criminals have become increasingly brazen in their crimes and we have started to see home invasions where innocent residents have suffered serious injuries. Even more disturbing is the number of people that have been hospitalized and even died due to this abuse. In 2008, almost half of the drug relatd emergency room visits in the were the result of a pharmaceutical.

The Partnership for a Drug Free America offers the following three step prevention guide:  


Parents, you are in a position to help reduce child access to prescription drugs. Take precautions to ensure none of    your medicine is missing.

  • Note how many pills you have.
  • Keep track of your refills and the refills of other people in your home. If refills are needed sooner than expected, something is wrong.
  • Control your child’s medication, monitoring the dosages and refills.
  • Make other family members (especially grandparents) and friends aware of the risks. Encourage them to monitor their own prescriptions. 


Children abuse prescription drugs because they are easily accessible, free or inexpensive.

  • Approach securing your prescriptions the same way you secure other valuables.
  • Hide prescriptions and other over the counter medicine in a secure place away from your children.
  • Encourage your friends and relatives to do the same. 


Safely disposing of expired and unused prescription medications is a critical step in protecting your children.

  • Take a medications inventory. Discard expired and unused drugs while your children are not at home.
  • Children will take drugs from the trash; therefore try to drop your unwanted medicines off at a drop center.
  • Do not flush medications down the toilet.
  • Remove all personal, identifiable information from your prescription bottles before throwing them away to prevent unauthorized refills and Identity Theft.

As with most dangers to our children, communication is the most important aspect of prevention. Talk to your kids about the harmful effects associated with the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medication.  

Emerging Drug Trends 2014

Click image for full report

Emerging Drug Trends 2014


Publications Available from United Way 2-1-1:

Going Home To StayGoing Home To Stay: A Guide for Successful Reentry for Men and Women - Cuyahoga County
This guide is intended to help people prepare for their release from prison. It provides information about the services they need when they return home, including health care, housing, clothing, legal assistance and employment. Going Home to Stay is also an excellent resource for social workers and others who are working in the reentry field. 94 pages. Free. © 2013. Download Only

Youth PagesYouth Pages: Guide for Cuyahoga County Teens

This guide helps youth find area agencies dedicated to helping and answering their questions about health, sexual health, drug abuse, violence, student rights, recreation and more. 167 Pages. Free. © 2013. Download Only

Robby's VoiceRobby’s Voice is a community based organization whose mission is to save lives by raising awareness about drug addiction. They arm parents, students and communities with the information to identify the warning signs of substance abuse and get access to the resources needed to LIVE a drug free life.  Visit to find a wealth of resources and steps you can take to help break the silence.

Warning Signs of Drug Use:


They’re not always obvious.

Drugs affect people in different ways, and each drug has varying effects upon those who use them. This is why it is so important to stay aware of what is going on in your home as well as with your child.

We have compiled a list of warning signs for drug usage and addiction (Opiates in white). This list is not definitive and your child may show signs that are not listed below.

Be especially alert if your loved one has experienced a life changing or traumatic event (from abuse to a new baby or moving) or if you see any change in behavior, habits or patterns.

If you suspect your child or a friend is using drugs, don’t be afraid to be wrong. Get guidance immediately from a professional.

The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Board of Cuyahoga County is responsible for the planning, funding and monitoring of public mental health and alcohol and other drug addiction services delivered to the residents of Cuyahoga County. Under Ohio law, the ADAMHS Board is one of 50 Boards coordinating the public behavioral health system in Ohio.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Heroin Prevention Campaign:  Let's Face It

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty has created a series of public service announcements to raise awareness about the heroin epidemic plaguing the county.This complementary campaign to the ADAMHS Board campaign, uses the theme Let's Face It and includes television spots and a website --  -- with information about where addicts and their family members can find help. It will also include information about the epidemic and personal stories by those touched by the epidemic.

How to dispose of your unwanted or expired medication


The best method to dispose of prescription medications is at a “DRUG DROP BOX.” These boxes are located at secure locations, are operated by local law enforcement and ensure the drugs are disposed of according to legal standards. To find a DRUG DROP BOX near you, click on the link below and enter your zip code:  

You may dispose of medications at home, but it is very important to follow specific steps which ensure safety and virtually eliminate diversion from the trash.  Remember, addicts that know you have medications may go through your trash.
  • Place medications in a disposable container such as a zip lock bag.
  • Crush medications if possible.
  • Add coffee grounds, kitty litter or saw dust to the bag.
  • Add a little bit of water to make a paste.
  • Place sealed bag or container in the trash.
  • Be sure to remove your personal information from all pill bottles before disposal.  

REMEMBER – NEVER flush your medications down the toilet, down the drain or in the garbage disposal.

Option 3: National Drug Take Back Day
The National Drug Take Back Day, locally promoted as Operation Medicine Cabinet, is a semi-annual event which allows residents to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications.  This is a partnership between the Drug Enforcement Agency, the county sheriff’s office, and local law enforcement.  The take back days typically occur in the spring and fall at numerous locations throughout Northeast Ohio.  Following the collection, the medications are transported by law enforcement and incinerated.  To find dates and locations of the next event, please visit