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The DEA reports a rise in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs containing deadly amounts of fentanyl. To reduce harm:

  • Do not take prescriptions drugs without a prescription
  • Carry naloxone
  • Know the signs of an opioid overdose
  • Use fentanyl testing strips to detect the substance before using prescription or illicit drugs

Signs of an opioid overdose

  • Have small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Are unresponsive and cannot be woken up
  • Have slow, weak, or no breathing
  • Are making choking or gurgling sounds
  • Have a limp body
  • Have cold, clammy skin
  • Have discolored skin, lips, or nails

If you suspect an opioid overdose

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Administer Naloxone (Narcan)
  • Try to keep the person awake and breathing
  • Lay the person on their side to prevent choking
  • Stay with them until emergency responders arrive

What are opioids?

Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. They reduce the sending of pain messages to the brain and reduce feelings of pain.

Opioids can be safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they are frequently misused. Regular opioid use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can produce dependence, and when misused , opioid pain relievers can lead to fatal overdose.

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Types of opioids

Overdose and naloxone

According to the CDC, The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. In Wisconsin, more residents died from a drug overdose than from motor vehicle accidents, suicide, or firearms. Eighty percent of all opioid overdoses are unintentional, and 85 percent of all drug overdoses are witnessed.

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What is naloxone?

Naloxone, sold under the brand Narcan among others, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in case of overdose. Naloxone can be administered as a nasal spray, auto-injector, and injectable.

Who can use naloxone?

Anyone. Naloxone is available to the public.

Why use naloxone? 

Eighty-five percent of drug overdoses are witnessed. Naloxone can save a life by stopping a drug overdose.

Where can you get naloxone?

Naloxone is available at many pharmacies in Madison; simply ask the pharmacist for naloxone. You can pay directly or bill your insurance. In the case of an emergency call 911, first responders in Madison carry naloxone.