Fighting the Opiate Epidemic in Cortland County

pill-bottlesBy Monica Nouvong, Cortland Prevention Resources –

Have you ever considered the safety of your medicine cabinet? Although most people take prescription medication responsibly under a doctor’s care, there has been a rise in non-medical use of prescription or over the counter drugs. Non-medical use of prescription drugs can lead to addiction or even be lethal. Commonly misused prescriptions medications include those that are intended to relieve pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders.

Bringing awareness to this issue is one of the goals of Cortland Area Communities That Care Coalition (CACTC). CACTC was awarded the Partnership for Success (PFS) Grant through the NY State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (OASAS) in 2015. The goal of this grant is to reduce prescription drug, heroin and opiate misuse and abuse amongst 12-25 year olds in Cortland County. CACTC will be working with community partners that include local law enforcement, school districts, local government agencies, and prevention focused agencies such as Cortland Prevention Resources.

 In Cortland County, 1 in 4 teens that have abused prescription drugs got them from home.

There are simple actions you can take to increase awareness in preventing teens from gaining access. First, have open conversations about appropriate and inappropriate use of medications with friends and family. Inform your loved ones that misuse of medications can be just as dangerous as using illegal drugs.  Second, ask your health provider if any medications prescribed for you or your family have a potential to be addictive. Finally, be familiar with the warning signs of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse. Warning signs may include withdrawal from normal activities, irritability, unusual requests for money, unexplained changes in friends, and frequent nasal or sinus infections.

Preventing prescription drug misuse in your home is easy:

Educate yourself and your children- Learn about the most commonly misused types of prescription medications such as pain relievers, sedatives, stimulants and tranquilizers. Be sure to ask health care providers if any medications prescribed to your family may have a potential for abuse. Communicate what you have learned and the dangers to your child regularly by integrating information into every day conversations.

Lock your medicine cabinet- Be aware of what medications are in your home and prevent others from using your medications by securing it in a place children and others cannot access.

Take inventory- Routinely take inventory of the type and amount of medications you currently have and check regularly to ensure that nothing is missing.

Proper disposal- Dispose of medications at a community drop box site or disposal event. There are two take back events every year on the last Saturday in September and April or you can safely dispose of your medications at one of Cortland County’s year-round drop box sites:

  • Cortland County Sheriff’s Department

  • City of Cortland Police Department

  • Village of Homer Police Department

  • SUNY Cortland Police Department

Share your knowledge- Talk to your loved ones, family, and friends about the risks and dangers of prescription drug abuse. Together, we can create a tipping point for change and raise safe, healthy, drug-free children.

To build awareness about this serious issue and educate the community about what they can do about it, CACTC has recently launched a countywide media campaign that will include radio, newspaper and social media ads. In addition, thousands of informative materials will be distributed throughout the community over the never year. To learn more about the campaign, and what you can do to prevent opiate misuse and abuse visit

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