Opioid Overdose Prevention

Best Practice

This page provides information only; it is not for emergencies.  If you are with someone who has overdosed, call 911 immediately.


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What is an opioid?

  • An opioid is a drug made from opium poppies or made in a laboratory
  • An opioid is a drug that acts in the brain and can stop you from breathing
  • An opioid is a drug that generally makes people feel warm and drowsy
  • An opioid is a drug which is used to manage physical pain and used in the treatment of addiction to other opioids
  • An opioid is a drug sometimes used for other reasons; to cope with emotional pain, to relieve boredom or for fun
  • An opioid is a drug you can become dependent on over time

A few common opioids:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxycodone
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Methadone
  • Codeine

Who is at risk of an opioid overdose?

You are at risk of an opioid overdose if you:

  • are taking prescription opioids which were not prescribed for you
  • are taking opioids prescribed for you but not taking them as prescribed
  • are mixing more than one drug at a time
  • are buying opioids from the street
  • have never used opioids before
  • use your regular dose, when you haven’t used for a while
  • are mixing your opioids with downers like alcohol or benzos (example, Valium or Xanax)
  • are changing to a different opioid
  • are using opioids alone

How to recognize an opioid overdose?

  • Breathing will be slow or person may not be breathing at all
  • Lips and nails may be blue
  • Person is not moving
  • Person may be choking
  • You hear gurgling sounds or snoring
  • Person cannot be woken up
  • Skin feels cold and clammy
  • Pupils are tiny

How to prevent an opioid overdose?

  • Don’t mix drugs. This includes prescribed, over-the-counter and illegal or illicit drugs
  • Keep prescription opioids away from children, youth and other adults in your home
  • Don’t mix drugs with alcohol
  • Don’t use opioids alone
  • If you switch to another opioid, uses less or do a test dose first
  • If you start using opioids after not using for a while or after cutting down, do a test dose first and start low

What is naloxone?

  • Naloxone (na-LOX-own) is a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose
  • If Naloxone is administered to someone who is not suffering from an opioid overdose, it should not harm them
  • Naloxone has been approved for use in Canada for over 40 years
  • Naloxone has no potential for abuse
  • Naloxone is available in an intramuscular injection form and in a nasal spray form

To learn more about Naloxone or how to get a free Naloxone Kit, CLICK HERE