Student Health and Wellness Services


Examples of opioids include heroin, oxycodone (OxyContin/Percocet), Fentanyl, Morphine, Codeine, and Hydrocodone(Vicodin). 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. It is one of the most potent opioids approved for medical use. Recently fentanyl is often produced illicitly—outside of the legal regulatory system—and many related compounds (analogues) have been appearing that have no prior use in medicine. Fentanyl’s effects are generally the same as other opioids like heroin, but because of the drug’s potency, they often appear faster and can last longer. Recent reports have found fentanyl mixed with other drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, MDMA(Molly), and counterfeit pills posing as Xanax, Oxycodone, Adderall, and more.

The way an opioid is taken may increase harm. Opioids may be taken orally, snorted, smoked, or injected with a syringe (needle).

 People who use opioids may report benefits like pain relief, sedation, and feelings of euphoria. Someone experiencing the effects of an opioid drug may have small contracted pupils, loose muscles, slurred speech, fall asleep unexpectedly, may have erratic or slow breathing, or in the case of an overdose, stop breathing entirely.

 Overdose is common with any form of opioid, and can be fatal. The risk of overdose increases when opioids are mixed with other drugs.

If someone is overdosing, they will be:

  • Unresponsive to touch or voice
  • Not breathing or breathing will be slow and uneven
  • Gasping or gurgling sounds
  • Skin, fingernails, or lips are blue or purple

Follow these steps when responding to an overdose

STEP 1. Identify opioid overdose and check for a response. Stimulate them awake by yelling their name and administering a hard sternum rub to the chest plate.

STEP 2. If you have naloxone/Narcan, use it. Administer one dose every two minutes.

  • Nasal: Stick the device up one nostril and click the plunger

STEP 3. Call 911, explain someone is not responsive and not breathing

STEP 4. Provide rescue breathing

  • Get the person on their back, tip their head back to straighten the airway, pinch their nose, put your mouth over theirs, and form a seal, one breath every five seconds

STEP 5. When the person starts to breathe regularly on their own, roll them into a recovery position on their side

STEP 6. Stay with the person until help arrives. Be gentle with them and yourself afterwards!

Reducing Overdose Risk

Don’t use alone. Have someone check on you if you like using alone. That way, if you do overdose, someone can intervene.

Have an overdose response plan. Having a plan to assist people helps to ensure that an overdose is not fatal.

Don’t mix drugs (including alcohol). Fentanyl is a dangerous drug but in combination with other drugs, the risk of overdose is much greater.

Learn how to use fentanyl test strips. Knowing what’s in your drugs can help you decide how much and how best to use them.

Always carry Narcan/naloxone. Be familiar with the signs of an overdose and be prepared to respond with naloxone, no matter what drug you’re using.


Get Naloxone Now is a free online resource to train people to respond effectively to an opioid overdose emergency. Access the training here

 Recovering from Opioid Overdose Resources

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

  • National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD, for hearing impaired)
  • Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator (search by address, city, or ZIP Code):

  • Buprenorphine Treatment Practitioner Locator (search by address, city, or ZIP Code):