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Prevention of Opioid Use Disorder

Substance use disorder is a major public health concern in New York State. To help address the problem it's important to educate yourself on the basic facts and ways to prevent substance use disorders.

Prevention should enhance protective factors and reverse or reduce risk factors

  • The risk of using drugs involves the relationship among the number and type of risk factors (e.g., deviant attitudes and behaviors) and protective factors (e.g., parental support).
  • The potential impact of specific risk and protective factors changes with age. For example, risk factors within the family have greater impact on a younger child, while association with drug-abusing peers may be a more significant risk factor for an adolescent.
  • Early intervention with risk factors (e.g., aggressive behavior and poor self-control) often has a greater impact than later intervention by changing a child's life path (trajectory) away from problems and toward positive behaviors.While risk and protective factors can affect people of all groups, these factors can have a different effect depending on a person's age, gender, ethnicity, culture, and environment.


Prevent the misuse of prescription medications.



Overdose Education: 
When there is too much of an opioid in the body, a person can lose consciousness and stop breathing – this is an overdose. An opioid overdose can happen suddenly or come on slowly over a few hours. Without oxygen, a person can die.


What are the risk factors for opioid overdose?

  • Using opioids again after your tolerance has dropped (e.g., like after being in treatment, a hospital, or jail). After a break from opioids, the body can’t handle as much as it did before.

  • Taking prescription pain medication more often or in higher doses than prescribed-or using someone else’s prescription pain medication. The dose could be too much.

  • Using heroin or pills bought on the street. Heroin and street pills often contain other substances that can be dangerously toxic.

  • Using opioids with alcohol or other drugs including sleeping pills, benzodiazepines (“benzos” like Valium and Xanax), cocaine and methamphetamine.

  • Any current or chronic illness that weakens the heart or makes it harder to breathe.

  • Using opioids alone. You are more likely to die from an overdose if no one is there to help.

  • Previous overdose. A person who has overdosed before is more likely to overdose again.

Opioid-related overdose has increased as a health-threat, which has led New York State to pass a life-saving law making it legal for non-medical persons to administer naloxone (Narcan) to another individual in order to prevent an opioid or heroin overdose from becoming fatal by reversing the overdose. 

  • You can learn how to use Narcan by scheduling a training with the Onondaga County Health Department or with ACR Health.
  • Narcan is available at the local pharmacies and at local overdose prevention programs.
  • The Health Department has fentanyl testing strips available, please reach out for confidential access.

Link people to treatment.

Help those who are experiencing the symptoms of a substance use disorder get appropriate treatment and crisis intervention:

Be involved and engaged.

People who are involved and engaged in their family and friends lives are more likely to notice the warning signs of substance use disorder and are able to prevent it before it happens. If you think someone you care about is using heroin or other opioids, start a conversation with them today. You can find resources to help have the conversation here at: Starting the Conversation




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