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Illicit Substances

A key step in combating addiction is educating yourself about the different type of licit and illicit substances that people with substance use disorders use. This includes prescription medications, synthetic drugs and over the counter substances. Below are some popular substances used today. Visit the OASAS website to learn about others.

Heroin

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine and used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Heroin can be a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. It is typically injected into a vein, smoked, snorter or inhaled.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an opioid used in medicine as part of a surgical anesthetic and as a pain medication. When used illicitly or recreationally, it is often in the form of a pill (mislabeled as an actual medication such as oxycontin), a liquid, or a white or brown powder. Fentanyl is significantly more potent than heroin or morphine. It has been found in multiple kinds of illicit drugs, including heroin, other opioids, methamphetamine and cocaine.

Synthetics

Synthetics are man-made drugs. A synthetic liquid compound is applied to dried leaves and plants to give a natural appearance, similar to marijuana. But in reality the plants have nothing to do with marijuana. Typical packages of these man-made substances often use bright colors and are marked as home incense or herbal smoking blends. Synthetics have been sold under brand names such as K2, Spice, Green Giant, Geeked Up, Caution, Smacked, Wicked X, AK-47, Herbal Incense, Fake Weed, Yucatan Fire, Skunk, Moon Rocks, Fire, Aroma, Earth impact, Mr. Smiley, Mr. Nice Guy, Zohai, Black Mamba, Dream and others.

Start the Conversation

Similar to many other chronic diseases, addiction can be treated. Medications that reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms are available to combat addiction. Treatment is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy that offers hope to those suffering from addiction and to their loved ones.

Educate and empower yourself with tools and resources about addiction so that you can help someone in need.

If a family member or friend is using substances, don't wait to speak up. Start the conversation before it's too late.

  • Listen to what they have to say and express your concern.
  • Let them know substance use is a medical disorder and that help is available.
  • Provide support as they seek help, make the phone call together, provide a ride to the appointment and call them after to follow up.
  • Express your own feelings about the effect of substance use and provide feedback.
     

     

    The You can be the Difference is a series of videos and brochures that include resources on prevention, treatment, and recovery services. The following is one of a three-part 'You can be the Difference' video collection featuring former professional football player Erik Coleman. Coleman discusses how recovery is possible for everyone and shares personal experiences with addiction. Watch the full series here.

     

Family

Have the Conversation

Be Prepared - Overdose Prevention

Store prescription medications safely

Keep an inventory of your medications. Dispense as prescribed and dispose of unused medications appropriately at home or taken them to a local medication drop box location. Visit the NYS Troopers and Department of Health websites to find a drop box or search "drug drop off" in GoogleMaps.

Regional Addiction Resource Centers (RARC) assist people, families, and communities in accessing local resources for those facing addiction problems. The RARC help identifies local prevention resources, local treatment opportunities, recovery services, and other supports.  The RARCs can also organize events based on community requests.

    Insurance Rights
    Understand your rights to coverage and denying appeals. Learn more.

    Governor's Paid Family Leave Program Overview | Frequently Asked Questions

    If you have a family member seeking treatment for a substance use disorder, you may be eligible for job-protected, paid time off through New York State Paid Family Leave.

    Treatment

    After Treatment

    School Staff


    Teachers and Administrators

    New York State offers a free flash drive with resources that help guide conversations. The drive includes videos with firsthand stories from real New Yorkers about warning signs, denial, and hope. Young people in recovery share their struggles, including their progression to addiction, loss of friendships and the strong hold addiction had on their lives. Available for order, for free, here.  

    Make sure to include heroin and opioids in the classroom as a part of your health curriculum. Learn more.


    The You can be the Difference is a series of videos and brochures that include resources on prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Coleman shares personal experiences and discusses the importance of teachers, coaches, family, and his community while growing up. Watch the full series here.
    You can be the Difference brochures include: Prevention 101, experimentation, intervention, recovery, a guide to prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication, a tool to safeguard your medicine cabinet.

    The Kitchen Table Toolkit to assist teachers and coaches with conversations about addiction, the progression of addiction, and the increase in opioid misuse and heroin use.

    Clinicians



    School Nurses, Counselors, and Pediatricians

    Early Screening and Intervention 

    Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based tool to help identify risky substance use patterns of alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and more, with the goal of reducing and preventing related health consequences, disease, accidents and injuries. Risky substance use is a health issue and often goes undetected. School physicians can incorporate SBIRT into regular check-ins with students. A series of screening questions can help identify risk factors early and prevent addiction or substance use disorder later in live.

     

     

    Overdose Prevention

    As the the opioid epidemic intensifies, it's important that school health professionals are trained in opioid overdose prevention measures. The New York State Center for School Health contains guidance on the overdose-reversal drug naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan), and how to implement an overdose prevention program in your school or school district. 
     

    Resources for school clinicians:
    Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth (National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)
    Adolescent SBIRT Toolkit and the CRAFFT Screening Interview (Boston Children's Hospital)
    Opioid Overdose Prevention Resources for School (New York State Department of Health 
    School Health Services (New York State Education)
    Important Facts About Controlled Substance Prescription Medications
    Order Form for Heroin and Prescription Medication Misuse Fact Sheets
    Information on identifying opioid addiction in a medical practice
     
    Resources for healthcare professionals: 
    Treating someone with addiction - Physician guide
    Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)
    CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
    American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
    New York Society of Addiction Medicine
    OASAS Addiction Medicine Free Educational Courses
    Naloxone Products, Naloxone Dispensing in Pharmacies and the Naloxone Co-Payment Assistance Program (webinar)

    Youth

    Community Organizations

    The You can be the Difference is a series of videos and brochures that include resources on prevention, treatment, and recovery services. 

    The following is one of a three-part 'You can be the Difference' video collection featuring former professional football player Erik Coleman. Coleman shares personal experiences and discusses the importance of teachers, coaches, family, and his community while growing up. Watch the full series here.
     

     

    Prevention 101: Information and tips to prevent alcohol and drug abuse.

    Prevention – Experimenting: Information and tips if you suspect a young person is experimenting with alcohol and drugs.

    Intervention: Information and tips to assist if you know a young person is using alcohol and drugs.

    Recovery: Information and tips to support someone in recovery.

    Prescription Drugs and Over the Counter Medication: General information and warning signs.

    Safeguarding your Medicine Cabinet: A resources to help you track the medications inside your home.

    Law Enforcement

    • Drug Treatment Courts - an effective alternative to incarceration for individuals with a drug addiction who commit crimes related to their addiction