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 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 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 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.
Have the Conversation
- The Power of Communicating - Get tips on how to talk to someone about getting help for addiction
- Kitchen Table Toolkit Discussion Guide - Learn how to start the conversation about addiction and substance abuse.
Be Prepared - Overdose Prevention
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.
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.
- OASAS Guide to Treatment
- New York State's Opioid Overdose Prevention Programs Directory
- National Institute of Drug Abuse Information for Families and Patients
- Questions to Ask When You Are Denied Admission to a Treatment Program
- When Family or Loved Ones Want to Help - Watch a video about resources that can assist family and loved ones after treatment.
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.
- Health Education Standards Modernization Supplemental Guidance Document: Instructional Resource Packet for Heroin & Opioids
- Guidance on Opioid Overdose Prevention from NYS Center for School Health
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Classroom Resources on Drug Effects
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism classroom materials
- Free Information and Resources for Students
- School-Based Health Centers
- Registry of Evidence-Based Prevention Programs
- Teen Vaping
- Inter-agency collaboration- Guidance on substance use issues in New York State from NYS OASAS, NYS State Education Dept, and NYS Dept of Health
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.
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.
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)
Resources for healthcare professionals:
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.
- You Can Be The Difference Brochures include:
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.
- The Kitchen Table Toolkit can assist community leaders in having conversations about addiction, the progression of addiction, and the increase in opioid misuse and heroin use. Key resources include:
- NYS Combat Heroin Kitchen Table Toolkit Part I: Talking with the Community
- NYS Combat Heroin Kitchen Table Toolkit - Part 2: Talking with Young People
- Guidelines for Discussing Substance Abuse and Addiction at Community Forums
- Guidelines for Discussing Substance Abuse and Addiction with Young People
- Talk2Prevent - resources for planning, launching, evaluating and sustaining coalitions, prevention outreach and education
- The Community Tool Box - tips and tools for taking action in communities
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce the impact of mental and substance use disorders in communities
- Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America - support for those working to make their communities safe, healthy and drug-free
- New York Council on Problem Gambling
- Know the Odds of Problem Gambling
- Community Coalitions offer support for locally-identified priorities and environmental strategies
- Kids’ Well-being Indicators Clearinghouse (KWIC) was developed by the New York State CCF and is a tool to monitor children’s health, education, and well-being data in order to improve outcomes for children and families.
- Project TEACH: Training and education for primary care physicians for the advancement of children’s health
- Drug Recognition Expert and Drug Impairment Training through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee
- Drug Treatment Courts - an effective alternative to incarceration for individuals with a drug addiction who commit crimes related to their addiction