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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 there is help.
  • 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.

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 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.

Families and Friends

About Addiction

  • Warning Signs - Learn the physical and behavioral signs that can indicate someone is struggling with addiction
  • Real Stories - Watch videos about real people telling their stories of addiction and recovery

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Overdose Prevention


After Treatment

Governor's Paid Family Leave Program

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.


Healthcare Professionals

Community Organizations


Law Enforcement

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